Saturday, June 12, 2004

Tax amnesty expires Monday


Covington waiving penalties until deadline

By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

COVINGTON - If you're overdue on business taxes in Covington, time is running out to pay without penalty or interest.

Procrastinators have until the end of business Monday to pay late payroll and net profits taxes.

Covington officials extended the eight-week tax amnesty campaign one day because there was no mail delivery during Friday's national day of mourning for former president Reagan.

For those who don't pay up by the deadline, City Solicitor Jay Fossett has four words of warning: "See you in court.''

"We've already got five or six lawsuits prepared, and I'm directing my assistant to file the suits on Tuesday,'' Fossett said. "We've left it to the finance department to suggest which offenders we take care of first.''

By midday Friday, Covington auditors had collected $267,000 in late business taxes - more than double the amount they spent to publicize the one-time amnesty campaign, Finance Director Bob Due said.

Those payments represented 144 accounts, including 33 new ones that will be added to the city's tax rolls in future budget years.

"We're very pleased with the outcome, especially when you look at the cost and the energy to attempt a program like this,'' Due said.

More than half of Covington's annual general fund revenue is from payroll and net profits taxes.

Workers who've slipped through business tax loopholes in the past include everyone from landlords to real estate agents to delivery workers, Covington auditors said.

"A lot of people simply didn't know they owed the taxes,'' said Fay Siegel, one of three Covington auditors who processed the payments. "Some mistakenly thought that if they paid a payroll or net profits tax to Kenton County that they were paying Covington. A lot of them said, 'My accountant didn't tell me,' or 'My payroll service should have been doing this.' ''

Some, such as an artist who had worked in Covington but lived elsewhere, told auditors that her accountant wrongfully told her she didn't owe payroll tax to Covington because she didn't live in the city.

"Most of the people who were delinquent were just really happy that they could get caught up without paying the penalties or interest,'' Siegel said.

The conditions

•  Individuals and companies who did business in Covington have until 4:30 p.m. Monday to pay late payroll and nets profits taxes at the city finance department in the first floor of the Covington city building at 638 Madison Ave. Payments will be accepted by mail if they are postmarked no later than Monday. •  For information on the tax amnesty campaign, call (859) 292-2122 or go to www.covingtontaxamnesty.com to download forms or for answers to frequently asked questions.




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