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Tax Collections is Business as Usual

State taxpayers who owe back taxes or returns can look forward to continued enforcement actions in advance of and throughout tax amnesty, which starts next month, according to the Franchise Tax Board (FTB).

State authorities advise that Californians out of compliance with their state taxes really need to pay attention to the upcoming amnesty program because the state is cracking down on those who owe.

This month, the FTB will issue an estimated 85,000 involuntary enforcement actions against tax debtors including earning withholding orders attaching to wages and payments made to contractors and bank withholding orders seizing bank account funds. In addition, the FTB recently seized vacant land in the Ruby Hill area of Pleasanton in Alameda County worth nearly $900,000 related to a specific tax debt.

Also rolling out this month is the FTB's annual filing enforcement effort that will contact nearly 600,000 individuals who failed to file a tax return last year.

Tax audits are also underway with the Audit Program aggressively pursuing abusive tax shelters in conjunction with the program's more routine audit workloads.

State taxpayers voluntarily file more than 14 million income tax returns a year contributing nearly $40 billion to the state's general fund. The FTB annually collects another $2 billion from its audit compliance and collection enforcement programs.

Taxpayers who owe state taxes for years 2002 and prior need to take advantage of tax amnesty that runs from February 1 through March 31, 2005. Tax amnesty applies to both individual and business taxpayers who owe income, franchise, sales, or use taxes. Taxpayers can avoid criminal prosecution and get most penalties and fees waived by paying the tax and interest. To learn more, visit www.taxes.ca.gov.

Tax amnesty legislation contained in the state budget came out of an earlier bill introduced by Assembly Member Judy Chu (D-Monterey Park) and co-sponsored by state Controller Steve Westly and Board of Equalization Member John Chiang.

Editors' Note: Please call for details concerning specific enforcement actions.