Hawaii News | Volcanic Ash Abercrombie gets lead out when cashing tax checks By David Shapiro Oct. 5, 2011 Mahalo for supporting Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Enjoy this free story! Read more Mahalo for reading the Honolulu Star-Advertiser! You're reading a premium story. Read the full story with our Print & Digital Subscription. Subscribe Now Read this story for free: Watch an ad or complete a survey Log In Already a subscriber? Log in now to continue reading this story. Activate Digital Account Print subscriber but without online access? Activate your Digital Account now. The jury is still out on whether Gov. Neil Abercrombie will run a more efficient administration than his predecessors, but one early indicator is that he’s smoking them so far on cashing checks in a timely manner. I had a running beef with both the Cayetano and Lingle administrations on the issue. Under former Gov. Ben Cayetano, $500 checks I was writing to one state agency went uncashed for four or five months before they were finally deposited. It was particularly annoying at a time the administration was cutting services because of a then-$200 million budget deficit; I wondered how much of that $200 million was laying around on somebody’s desk in uncashed checks. With former Gov. Linda Lingle, the issue was uncashed income tax checks. I found it outrageous that with deficits now approaching $1 billion and the administration delaying tax refunds at the end, the state was taking up to two months to deposit my April tax payments and up to a month to deposit my four estimated tax payments during the year. The federal tax payments I send the IRS are almost always deposited within a week after I mail the check. I calculated at one point that the state’s foot-dragging in cashing tax checks cost $1 million a year in lost interest. My first estimated tax payment on Abercrombie’s watch, in January, was deposited just short of a month after I mailed it, about the same as my final payment to the Lingle administration last September. But the new administration has shown impressive progress since then. My April tax check was deposited 16 days after I mailed it, compared with a month for my final April payment under Lingle. The deposit lag was down to 10 days for my June estimated tax payment and eight days for my recent September payment, which approaches IRS speed considering that a weekend was involved. Good on them; keep it up. Electronic payments are the obvious answer to streamlining the process and maximizing the state’s interest earnings, and a system was set up by the Lingle administration which is still in place. But I hope Abercrombie’s tax collectors will reconsider a self-defeating "portal administration fee" for taxpayers who pay online by credit card of $1 plus 2.25 percent of the total transaction. For a $1,000 payment, the fee is a hefty $23.52 compared with 44 cents for a stamp. This make no sense, as online payments are greatly to the state’s benefit. The tax office doesn’t have to pay employees to open the mail, scan the information into a computer or take the checks to the bank — and the state starts collecting interest immediately. Online payers should get incentives, not fees. Reach David Shapiro at firstname.lastname@example.org or blog.volcanicash.net. Previous Story Hughes Corp. revives plan for Kakaako Next Story In Arizona bull run, danger, yes. liability, no.