A little behind on your state taxes? Failed to render to Harrisburg what is Harrisburg's? You know who you are.
Pretty soon all of Pennsylvania will know who you are, too. Unless you take advantage of the state's new tax amnesty by June 18.
Using an assortment of carrots and sticks, Gov. Ed Rendell and the Legislature created the program last year with the hope of collecting at least $190 million of the $2.1 billion in back taxes owed by businesses and individuals. One of the sticks to be used to, ahem, encourage compliance is publishing the list of tax cheats.
But there are better incentives than saving face and the family reputation for making good on your tax bill.
1. It's the right thing to do. Ninety-seven percent of all other taxpayers paid on time. But your excuse was ... ?
2. The 54-day amnesty program will waive all penalties and cut your interest on back taxes in half. So now's a great time to pay up.
3. The state is holding you responsible for filing and paying taxes and partial interest going back only five years. So if you've been cheating longer than that, you still win.
4. It's the first time in 14 years the state has offered amnesty, so you don't know when it will happen again.
5. The downside in skipping the amnesty is you'll get hit with an added 5 percent interest and you'll move to the head of the pack for enforcement by tough and eager-to-collect tax investigators. Not a pretty place to be.
The state says that 62 percent of the back taxes eligible for amnesty are owed by businesses on corporation taxes, employer withholding and sales tax. Personal income taxes make up 33 percent. So cheating is a game played by people and by companies.
Regardless, all of it is unfair to the good Pennsylvanians who pay their taxes on time, thereby funding roads, bridges, education, police, health and other programs essential to all. Shame on those who need amnesty to do their part.