Tax amnesty

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Tax amnesty is a limited-time opportunity for a specified group of taxpayers to pay a defined amount, in exchange for forgiveness of a tax liability (including interest and penalties) relating to a previous tax period or periods and without fear of criminal prosecution. It typically expires when some authority begins a tax investigation of the past-due tax. In some cases, legislation extending amnesty also imposes harsher penalties on those who are eligible for amnesty but do not take it.[1]



Australia launched tax amnesties in 2007 and 2009.[2]


In 2004 the Belgian Parliament adopted a law allowing individuals subject to Belgian income tax to regularize the undeclared, or untaxed, assets they held before June 1, 2003.[3]


In 2004 Germany granted a tax amnesty in connection with tax evasion.[4]


On September 30, 2010, the Hellenic Parliament ratified a legislation pushed through by the Greek government in an effort to raise revenue, granting tax amnesty to millions of Greek citizens by paying just 55 percent of the outstanding debts.[5][6][7] In 2011, the European Commission requested Greece to modify its tax legislation as its tax amnesty was considered discriminatory and incompatible with European Union treaties.[8]


Italy introduced a tax amnesty in 2001 that came to be known as Scudo Fiscale (English: Tax Shield), which was extended in 2003.[9]

In 2009 the Italian tax amnesty subjected repatriated assests to a flat tax of 5%.[10] In total around €80 billion in assets were declared, which resulted in tax revenues of €4 Billion.[11] The Bank of Italy estimated that Italian citizens held around €500bn in undeclared funds outside the country.[12]


Portugal introduced tax amnesties in 2005 and 2010.[13]


In 2007, a Russian tax amnesty program collected $130 million in the first six months. The Russian program was not open to anyone previously convicted of tax crimes such as tax evasion.[14]

South Africa[edit]

In 2003 South Africa enacted the Exchange Control Amnesty And Amendment of Taxation Laws Act, a tax amnesty.[15]


In 2012 the Spanish Minister of Economy and Competitiveness Cristóbal Montoro announced a tax evasion amnesty for undeclared assets or those hidden in tax havens. Repatriation would be allowed by paying a 10 percent tax, with no criminal penalty.[16]

United States[edit]

In 2009, a federal U.S. tax amnesty was granted to more than 14,700 American taxpayers.[17]

Many U.S. states have had tax amnesties.[18] The City of Los Angeles collected $18.6 million in its 2009 tax amnesty program, claiming that the amount was $8.6 million more than was expected and that businesses saved $6.7 million in penalties.[19] The state of Louisiana brought in $450 million from its 2009 tax amnesty program, three times more than what was expected, according to Republican Governor Bobby Jindal.[20]

In a 2007 United States Senate bill that did not become law, a tax amnesty for illegal immigrants was proposed. The tax amnesty was supported by then-president George W. Bush and his Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.[21]

On June 26, 2012, IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman said the IRS offshore voluntary disclosure programs has so far collected more than $5 billion in back taxes, interest and penalties from 33,000 voluntary disclosures made under the first two programs.[22]

Further reading[edit]

  • Bornukova, K., Kruk, D., Shymanovich, G., & Tserlukevich, Y. (2014). Tax Amnesty (in Russian) (No. 21). Belarusian Economic Research and Outreach Center (BEROC).
  • Jacques Malherbe (2011). Tax Amnesties. ISBN 978-90-411-3364-9. 


  1. ^ The traps in amnesty for taxes
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  5. ^ Daley, Suzanne (February 20, 2011). "Greece's Efforts to Limit Tax Evasion Have Little Success". The New York Times. 
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  8. ^ "EU Commission tells Greece to change tax amnesty". Reuters. February 16, 2011. 
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  17. ^ Browning, Lynnley (November 18, 2009). "14,700 Disclosed Offshore Accounts". The New York Times. 
  18. ^ State Tax Amnesty Programs
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  21. ^ Boston Globe: Kennedy, McCain try again on immigration. February 28, 2007.
  22. ^ "IRS Says Offshore Effort Tops $5 Billion, Announces New Details on the Voluntary Disclosure Program and Closing of Offshore Loophole". IRS website. US Internal Revenue Service. Retrieved 2012-06-29.