Legislation granting temporary amnesty to delinquent taxpayers is hung up in the Iowa House. Governor Chet Culver has called for a period of amnesty so those who owe taxes — but haven’t paid — can pay without fear of prosecution or hefty fines. Representative Doris Kelley, a Democrat from Waterloo, says the move could bring more tax dollars into state coffers.
"The last time we did this was in 1986 and at that time we raised about $35.1 million," Kelley says. But Republicans are raising several objections. Representative Kraig Paulsen, a Republican from Hiawatha, says those who took advantage of "tax amnesty" back in 1986 should be barred from this go-round. "These people who have been granted amnesty once before have chosen to violate the law again," Paulsen says. "…I think the right decision is not to allow tax cheats to double dip."
Paulsen also wants to make public the names of those who take advantage of the "amnesty" period and pay their back taxes. Representative Eric Palmer, a Democrat from Oskaloosa, ridiculed Paulsen’s idea. "Should we just put these people in stocks and publicly humiliate them?" Palmer asked Paulsen. Paulsen, the Republican, points out that other criminals have their names made a matter of public record. "Why would we treat these criminals different?" Paulsen asked.
Palmer, the Democrat, said some people who have "medical emergencies" get behind on their taxes, and he said they shouldn’t be labeled as criminals. Both of those Republican proposals were rejected by Democrats who hold a majority of seats in the legislature and then discussion of the bill was tabled. More debate is expected in the next few days before legislators adjourn the 2007 session.