CHICAGO (WBBM) — State revenue workers are still opening envelopes and counting the money from Illinois’ just-ended tax amnesty program –only the second in the state’s history.

Newsradio 780’s Regine Schlesinger reports it was designed to bring in badly needed revenue to help shrink Illinois’ growing deficit.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Regine Schlesinger Reports

The amnesty period began Oct. 1 and ended this past Monday, allowing those who owed the state taxes to pay up without incurring interest or penalties.

The state revenue department says it’s still figuring out how much it took in.

Bob Reed, director of investigations for the Better Government Association, says the projections varied widely, between $100 million and $250 million.

“Either way, that’s a drop in the bucket when you look at the bigger problems the state has with its budget,” said Reed.

Those problems include a budget hole nearing $15 billion, with the state $6 billion behind in payments to vendors.

Reed says for anyone who didn’t take advantage of this amnesty, there probably won’t be another anytime soon.

“If you have too many of these amnesties, it becomes a disincentive to pay your taxes,” he said.

The only other time Illinois had a tax amnesty, in 2003, it took in over $500 million in revenue. A spokeswoman for the Illinois Revenue Department expects to have some figures on the amount collected this time by next Monday.

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