Ky. tax amnesty gets credit for boosting revenue

Ky. General Fund revenue rises significantly in November; tax amnesty program likely factor

Associated Press

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) -- An offer of tax amnesty in Kentucky was a factor in a significant rise in General Fund revenue in November, the state's budget chief said Monday.

Budget director Mary Lassiter said revenue rose 7.6 percent to $784.2 million, largely the result of 16.4 percent jump in property tax collections.

Individual income tax revenue increased by 10.7 percent and sales tax receipts rose by 4.6 percent for the month.

Lassiter credited a growing state economy and the amnesty offer, which allowed delinquent taxpayers to pay up without the fear of prosecution, for the General Fund growth.

"Early indications are that the amnesty initiative was successful and well-utilized," Lassiter said in a statement. "The total impact of tax amnesty won't be finalized until spring, as many taxpayers opted to pay their back taxes over several months."

Some 16,000 delinquent taxpayers had accepted the amnesty offer by the time it expired on Nov. 30.

Gov. Steve Beshear had said he hoped to generate some $55 million for the state through the offer. A similar offer a decade ago resulted in more than 23,000 taxpayers shelling out $40 million.

Monday's revenue report painted a bleak economic picture in Kentucky's mountain region, where most of the state's mining operations are located. Revenue from the state's so-called "coal severance tax" plummeted by 25.5 percent in November.

And cigarette tax revenue fell by 2.1 percent, which is believed to be largely the result of more Kentuckians kicking the smoking habit.

Road Fund receipts fell 7.4 percent to $114.4 million in November.

That decrease came despite a 6.4 percent increase in fuel tax revenue and an increase of less than 1 percent in motor vehicle taxes.

Revenue from license and privilege fees fell by 44.6 percent to $16.6 million.

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