POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Feb 23, 2011
QUESTION: Now that the federal government will not be mailing out tax income forms, will the state of Hawaii plan the same by curtailing mailing of income tax forms?
ANSWER: The state Department of Taxation stopped the automatic mailing of tax booklets to all taxpayers in 2008.
At that time, the department mailed notices to all taxpayers informing them that "due to our fiscal situation, we have suppressed the mail out of all tax booklets," mailing booklets only to taxpayers who specifically requested individual income tax, general excise tax, withholding tax, transient accommodations tax and rental motor vehicle and surcharge tax booklets.
"To accommodate the anticipated masses calling in," an ad hoc team was formed to handle the calls and update the records of those who asked to be mailed their booklets, said Annette Yamanuha, manager of Taxpayer Services.
Since then there have been "many discussions at the management level regarding the total discontinuation of the mail-out of the income tax booklets," she said, but, for now, requests for mailings are accommodated.
"We believe that these individuals who have requested the booklets to be mailed out annually are paper filers who are not ready to file electronically," Yamanuha said.
This year, individual income tax booklets were mailed in January to all taxpayers who requested the booklets and filed paper returns last year.
QUESTION: I sent in a check for the Fourth Quarter 2010 Estimate Tax payment in November, knowing what my tax will be for the quarter. The deadline for the Fourth Quarter payment was January 2011. So far (mid-January) the check has not been cashed. Why doesn't the tax office cash the payment checks as soon as they receive them? I think if they cash these checks immediately and put them in the state bank account, they will receive interest on them sooner. I know one check won't be much, but with all other payments they receive, it could be substantial.
ANSWER: The state Department of Taxation processes all payments as they are received — no checks are held until the deadline date, said Taxpayer Services Manager Annette Yamanuha.
The problem is with budget cuts.
"Due to fiscal constraints, we have been experiencing longer delays in processing payments as well as returns," she said. "The past year's furloughs, reduction in force, unfunded vacancies and loss of overtime have negatively impacted our operations and has affected not only our processing speed, but our overall customer service."
Budgetary reductions and restrictions have affected all state agencies, including the Tax Services and Processing Division, where there's been a 28 percent decrease in personnel funding since fiscal year 2008, she said.
In the 2009 fiscal year (ending June 30, 2009), the average number of business days to process all checks was 10; in fiscal year 2010 it was an average of 11 days; and in the current fiscal year the average is 14 business days, Yamanuha said.
To the nice man (sorry for not getting his name) driving a Henry's Equipment Rental rig for stopping behind me in the middle lane of the eastbound traffic on the Airport Viaduct the morning of Feb. 16 so that the cars behind me would not crash into my stalled car. I also want to thank Clint of Tow Boyz for towing my car and Honolulu police officers Keogh and Higa for their assistance as well. — L. Santos