(AP) — Thousands of delinquent taxpayers rushed Friday to accept an amnesty offer that allows them to avoid prosecution by willingly catching up on back taxes.
"Definitely, it's the last-minute push," said Pamela Trautner, a spokeswoman for the Kentucky Department of Revenue.
The amnesty offer expires at 9 p.m. local time on Friday. More than 3,000 people applied in the final 24 hours.
Gov. Steve Beshear hopes to generate some $55 million for the state through the amnesty offer, which is intended to help balance a two-year, $19 billion budget.
"I think there's every expectation that we'll be meeting the goals that were set," Beshear told reporters at a Capitol press conference on Friday.
Lawmakers authorized the amnesty offer earlier this year for the nearly 170,000 people and businesses behind on their tax payments.
A similar offer a decade ago resulted in more than 23,000 taxpayers shelling out $40 million.
Delinquent taxpayers who don't apply for amnesty will be charged higher penalties and additional interest if they're caught later.
The Department of Revenue has said that people and businesses taking advantage of the amnesty offer could pay an average of 30 percent less than what they actually owe. The average debt for people behind on their state taxes is about $5,000, and the average debt for businesses is about $25,000.
Taxpayers who accept the amnesty offer, which was advertised statewide, have to remain current on their taxes over the next three years or face reinstated penalties, fees and interest.
The state already has settled up with thousands with delinquent taxpayers. Though the total amount hasn't yet been tallied, Flanery said it is in the millions of dollars.
The Department of Revenue has fielded some 30,000 phone calls about the amnesty offer since it was made available earlier this year. Payments have come into the Department of Revenue from every county in Kentucky and from all states except Vermont and Montana.