New York -- Tax amnesty programs around the country appear to be doing better than expected, with many states reaping millions from taxpayers who opt to settle old debts and save on interest and penalties under the programs.

New York City’s Finance Department has already collected $40 million from its tax amnesty program, far exceeding its initial target of $20 million before the Jan. 23 deadline. New York City finance commissioner Martha Stark called the program “a huge success.”

Since the program’s launch on Oct. 20 of last year, the NYC Finance Department has pro­cessed more than 15,000  transactions, with an average savings of $2,800 for each individual eligible taxpayer.

Other states have also enjoyed additional money from their amnesty programs. Virginia pulled in $98.3 million from 95,000 delinquent taxpayers during its most recent amnesty, twice as much as the state originally predicted. According to a statement by Governor Mark Warner, the windfall helped close a $1 billion gap in Virginia’s two-year, $59 billion state budget, which takes effect July 1, 2004.

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich said in January that his state’s tax amnesty program brought in $10 million more than expected. Earlier in the month, Blagojevich said that the state received $175 million in tax amnesty money, but later revealed a final count of $185 million.

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