A Catholic priest living in retirement in rural Maryland who wanted to settle his accounts with God and the state government is among the recent individuals acknowledging unpaid taxes during the two-month amnesty program for delinquent Maryland taxpayers.

The priest told state collectors that he had failed to pay state income taxes ever since leaving his parish in Washington for pastoral work in Maryland more than 30 years ago. "I have faithfully filed federal income taxes from 1940 to the present . . . but that nonfiling in Maryland bothered me," he wrote to state collectors. "I have been trying to get everything in order before I go to meet my Maker."

State officials hope to reach or exceed their goal of $20 million during the amnesty. State Comptroller Louis L. Goldstein reported Friday that the program -- which began Sept. 1 and ends Oct. 31 -- has brought in $1.3 million from individuals and businesses.

Those seeking to escape the stiffer penalties that will begin Nov. 1 have included a clown, a man who owed more than $8,000 in taxes on a 24-year-old military pension and a retired teacher who claimed he should have let his wife fill out their tax returns, Goldstein said. The program, as it reached its halfway point, appears to be on schedule, said Marvin Bond, an aide to Goldstein. More than 5,000 calls for amnesty information have been made to the state's toll-free line, 1-800-MD-TAXES, he said.