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Tax Amnesty Program Exceeds Goal, Money To Fund Hoosier State Train

Dave Dugdale

Indiana’s 2015 tax amnesty program surpassed its goal of collecting at least $90 million. 

That ensures funding for key state programs, including the Hoosier State passenger train that runs between Indianapolis and Chicago and stops in Lafayette. 

The two-month tax amnesty program generated $100 million from Hoosiers who owed back taxes and repaid them without penalties, interest or fines.  

Delinquent taxpayers have promised an additional $22 million through payment plans that run through June 2016. 

About $84 million of the total is dedicated for the state's new Regional Cities Initiative, an economic development program that will award funding to two Indiana regions.

The next $6 million is earmarked for the Hoosier State rail service.    

The remaining money goes to the state’s general fund. 

Funding for the rail line was in limbo until State senator Brandt Hershman came up with the plan to allocate a total of $6 million in tax amnesty dollars to operate the train from Aug. 1 through July 31, 2017.  

State and local leaders searched for a way to pay a private contractor to improve the former Amtrak service that was de-funded by Congress on Sept. 30, 2013.

The four-day-a-week Hoosier State combined with Amtrak's three day a week Cardinal provide daily rail service in Indiana. 

The Department of Revenue hired a private contractor, Navient, to help collect the tax amnesty payments. 

Navient gets four percent of the money it helps collect if it reaches at least $55 million.

The contractor has not yet hit that mark on its own, though a Revenue Department spokesperson says it’s expected to once the remaining money comes in via the payment plans. 

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.
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