- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 5, 2014

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Arkansas collected more than $768,000 during a four-month amnesty period meant to encourage the payment of late franchise taxes, the secretary of state’s office said.

The state forgave late fees and interest on delinquent tax accounts during the amnesty program late last year. Secretary of State Mark Martin’s office said this week that more than 2,000 companies took advantage of the amnesty program and paid off overdue bills.

State Sen. Eddie Joe Williams, R-Cabot, sponsored the legislation that allowed for the one-time amnesty period, and he plans to introduce similar legislation during the 2015 regular session, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported Wednesday (https://bit.ly/1eTDb5e ).

“It brought in more than three-quarters of a million dollars that went straight to funding adequacy in education,” Williams said. “Over 2,000 businesses took advantage of it, so I would call that a success.”

The first $8 million collected in franchise taxes goes into the state’s general operating fund, but anything in excess of that amount goes into the Education Adequacy Fund, which provides funding for public schools, higher education and health and human services.

During the amnesty, the state forgave $234,744 in late fees and interest for those companies that paid overdue taxes for the past three years, secretary of state’s office spokesman Alex Reed said.

The $768,521 collected during the amnesty period was a fraction of taxes owed to the state. At the start of the amnesty period, Martin’s office estimated that more than 147,100 businesses owed more than $81 million in unpaid taxes.

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, https://www.arkansasonline.com

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