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Tax Amnesty: A Win Win?

Washington state finds a $321 million cash windfall in a tax amnesty program, as thousands of small businesses paid up penalty-free.

A three-month tax amnesty program in Washington state is causing buzz today, after Governor Christine Gregoire announced the program collected a staggering $321 million, nearly double the amount expected.

"It is cash on hand. It gives us critical dollars to close the current (budget) gap," Gregoire told The Olympian. 'This is money that has already been collected in this fiscal year."

Tax amnesty programs let companies that owe back taxes pay up without penalties. A majority of the 9,000 companies that participated in Washington's program were small businesses, reports the outlet. Gregoire said that the extra cash could be used to help pay off a $240 million debt owed to the state's public schools.

Washington's shocking success could influence other states to jump on the amnesty bandwagon, though it isn't exactly a new idea.

Officials in New Mexico announced today that their own tax amnesty program--launched last year to collect the nearly $15 million in dues--had already collected $7.2 million, reported the Associated Press today. The state expects to attract a total of 5,000 taxpayers by the end of the program, but they already have around 3,900 cases that owe a total of $14.7 mllion.

In April, Michigan also announced a tax amnesty program, which aimed to collect $88 million.

Last updated: May 4, 2011

NICOLE CARTER | Staff Writer | San Francisco Bureau Chief

Nicole Carter is Inc.'s San Francisco bureau chief. She was previously an editor at New York Daily News, and her work has also appeared in Consumer Reports magazine.

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