The state’s amnesty program for tax delinquents has raised nearly double its collection target, with 11 days still to go, Revenue Services Commissioner Kevin B. Sullivan reported Monday.

The program, which began Sept. 16 and runs through Nov. 15, has raked in $63 million to date, $28 million above the $35 million estimate built into the budget by the legislature and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.

“The governor and state legislature wisely took a conservative approach, so I am glad we are exceeding expectations,” Sullivan said, adding that “this is a chance for delinquent taxpayers to do the right thing and the smart thing.”

An estimated 80,000 residents and businesses in total are currently delinquent, owing about $400 million.

The program waives all penalties and reduces by 75 percent all interest owed on nearly all state taxes, except for those owed under the motor carrier road tax. All major levies, such as the income, sales and corporation taxes are included in the program.

To encourage delinquents to take advantage of this program, the state’s fifth tax amnesty program since 1990, officials added a new wrinkle.

The 10 percent interest penalty applied to most delinquent state tax bills jumps to 25 percent on any residents and businesses who owe back taxes during the two-month amnesty period — and yet still refuse to pay.

Past amnesty programs and the collections they generated include:

  • 2009, $25 million.
  • 2002, $109 million.
  • 1995, $46 million.
  • 1990, $54 million.

Republican lawmakers criticized the amnesty program, calling it one of several gimmicks Malloy and his fellow Democrats in the legislature’s majority used to postpone the state’s fiscal problems until after the 2014 gubernatorial elections.

Sullivan said this latest effort “returns more to the state on behalf of all our taxpayers than would likely be realized through the expense of the usual collection efforts. This also means we can focus enforcement even more on those who fail to come forward during the amnesty period, and we will find them.”

Keith has spent most of his 31 years as a reporter specializing in state government finances, analyzing such topics as income tax equity, waste in government and the complex funding systems behind Connecticut’s transportation and social services networks. He has been the state finances reporter at CT Mirror since it launched in 2010. Prior to joining CT Mirror Keith was State Capitol bureau chief for The Journal Inquirer of Manchester, a reporter for the Day of New London, and a former contributing writer to The New York Times. Keith is a graduate of and a former journalism instructor at the University of Connecticut.

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