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State moving forward with cuts to Kaua‘i tax office

LIHU‘E — Despite Gov. David Ige deciding against furloughs and layoffs after the passing of the federal American Rescue Plan, the state Department of Taxation is still moving forward with a reorganization of the Kaua‘i District Tax Office.

Last month, the DOT proposed nixing several on-island departments, including the office and field-audit sections, and downsizing collections and tax services.

The staff of 11 would be reduced to four.

The reorganization is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2021.

With the federal relief-bill’s passage, $2.2 billion in funds were allocated to the state. Ige in a press release said “layoffs and furloughs are no longer necessary in the foreseeable future.”

In a March 15 letter to the DOT, Hawai‘i Government Employees Association Executive Assistant Sanford Chun asked if Ige’s announcement would also apply to the Kaua‘i office.

DOT Director Isaac Choy replied that it’s up to the state Legislature in the state budget to both restore and fund these positions, not the department.

“The proposed reduction-in-force is no longer in our control,” Choy said in a March 16 email to HGEA obtained by The Garden Island.

In a February letter to HGEA announcing the reduction, the DOT said the Kaua‘i office had the “highest rate of complaints received from taxpayers” and the “highest rate of canceled audits due to their failure to assess on time.”

Days later, HGEA Executive Director Randy Perreira questioned the cuts, and asked for proof of these claims.

As of Thursday, the DOT had not responded to Perreira’s questions or provide proof of the state’s claims.

For over a year, Kaua‘i office staff have raised operational and administrative issues and concerns, including office procedures, workflow and staffing and internal communication, which have not been solved, according to the union.

The work done by the proposed eliminated sections would be directed to the O‘ahu District Tax Office.
Source: The Garden Island

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