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Feb 23, 2010 11:30 AM by Associated Press

Louisiana should check tax files of contractors

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Lawmakers should consider requiring "tax clearances" for individuals and businesses that contract with the state, a new audit report concludes.
The Legislative Auditor's Office made the recommendation in a report released to the public Monday.
The office looked at the state revenue department's methods for identifying people and businesses who fail to file a state tax return.
A recent tax amnesty program waived part of the interest and penalties owed by delinquent taxpayers if they paid their bill in full. The program netted more than $450 million for the state.
In the audit, the revenue department noted that individuals and businesses that contract with the state are not required to undergo "tax clearances,' which is a showing that they had paid their taxes.
"The prescreening process potentially could decrease the number of non-filers overall," the report speculates.
There are two management groups within the revenue department that deal with tax collections. Both are in the agency's Office of Tax Administration. One processes tax returns. The other conducts audits and handles refunds.
The Legislative Auditor's Office noted the revenue department already does a number of things to identify non-filers. The office concluded the agency could do a few more things such as furthering the use of technology.
The office recommended that:
-The revenue department make use of electronic data from other
state agencies. For example, the auditor's office said, the agency could seek information on state contractors to see if they are filing tax returns.
The auditor's office said it looked at health care providers who received Medicaid payments from the state in 2007. The office said it identified more than 400 possible nonfilers and $22 million in potential unclaimed income.
-The agency prioritize technology projects such as uploading Internal Revenue Service audits performed on Louisiana taxpayers.
The auditor's office said this has not been done since 2005.
In a written response to the audit, the revenue department's assistant secretary, Clarence Lymon, said the agency welcomes any ideas or suggestions.
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Information from: The Advocate, http://www.2theadvocate.com

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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