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Kokua Line: Honolulu County service-center appointments canceled through Wednesday, at least

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Question: I have a driver’s license renewal appointment scheduled for next Wednesday (Sept. 9). Will the DMV be open that day or will it be closed and my appointment canceled? I have not been able to reach anyone by telephone and the information on the website is unclear.

Answer: It will be closed and your appointment canceled, as is true at all of Honolulu County driver’s license centers and satellite city halls through Sept. 9, coinciding with Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s islandwide Second Stay at Home/Work From Home Order.

The islandwide closures began on Aug. 27. As of now, the service centers are scheduled to reopen on Sept. 10 (by appointment only), but that would change if the mayor’s shutdown order is extended.

You are one of several readers who contacted Kokua Line asking about appointments on Sept. 9, because you saw on the Department of Customer Services website ( that appointments “between” Aug. 27 and Sept. 9 had been canceled; you clung to a glimmer of hope.

The closure period includes the start and end dates. Thanks to your sharp eye, the CSD website has been updated to make that crystal clear.

We wondered why you hadn’t received a text from the city alerting you that your appointment was canceled; perhaps you made the appointment without using a text-capable device or you made it from a device lacking an 808 area code. It’s not unusual for Hawaii residents to have a cell phone with a different area code (people hate to change numbers they’ve had for a long time). Other readers told us they didn’t get a cancellation text either, and when they showed up for their appointments (no dice) were informed that city staff doesn’t text out of state and told to make a new appointment.

Numerous other readers have asked whether the validity of their driver’s licenses will be extended past their September expiration dates, since their appointments were canceled and they couldn’t get a new appointment on before the expiration date; numerous readers mentioned not being able to get a new appointment until December.

We don’t have an update about that, but have asked the state Department of Transportation for more information. As of deadline Wednesday, the DOT website said that only driver’s licenses that expired through Aug. 31 would be extended, to Sept. 30.

Q: I mailed in my taxes in May and I still haven’t gotten my refund. This is for the federal. Did they ever start processing the paper returns?

A: Yes, but slowly. “We’re experiencing delays in processing paper tax returns due to limited staffing. If you already filed a paper return, we will process it in the order we received it,” the Internal Revenue Serv­ice said in an update on its website dated Aug. 31.

The notice also says not to file a second tax return or to contact the IRS about the status of your paper return.

Any tax filing that can be handled electronically should be, it says. Taxpayers who sought an extension have until Oct. 15 to file their federal income tax return.

Q: I mailed a tax payment, but the IRS never cashed it. Now what?

A: “If a taxpayer mailed a check (either with or without a tax return), it may still be unopened in the backlog of mail the IRS is processing due to COVID-19. Any payments will be posted as the date we received them rather than the date the agency processed them. To avoid penalties and interest, taxpayers should not cancel their checks and should ensure funds continue to be available so the IRS can process them.

“To provide fair and equitable treatment, the IRS is providing relief from bad check penalties for dishonored checks the agency received between March 1 and July 15 due to delays in IRS processing. However, interest and penalties may still apply.”

Write to Kokua Line at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or email

Correction: Honolulu County service-center appointments are canceled through at least Wednesday, Sept. 9. A previous version of this column and its headline referred to the wrong day of the week.
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