The State Department of Taxation is under new leadership and changes are being made prior to hearings on its budget. HPR’s Wayne Yoshioka reports.
State Department of Taxation director, Linda Chu-Takayama, was appointed by the governor one month ago. She told members of the Senate Ways and Means Committee last week that she will lead the tax system modernization or TSM project, replacing Enterprise Technology Services, ETS.
“As director, I will assume full leadership of the project. The ETS will continue to be available to provide technical assistance and support as it does to every other major IT project in the state.”
Chu-Takayama is requesting 16.5 million dollars from the Legislature to complete the project, which is currently at 60 percent and already in use.
“In the last year, 120,000 taxpayers signed up to use Hawai’i tax online – that’s the online portal for taxpayers. And currently, half of all GET and TAT taxpayers are signed up to process returns and make payments online.”
In addition, a new contract is being drafted for an independent verification and validation company that will report to the Office of Enterprise Technology Services. Meanwhile, Hawai’i Government Employees Association executive director, Randy Perreira, says departmental control of TSM is a move in the right direction for some union employees.
“Our primary role in all of this was really to be a voice for those employees who were feeling left out and, frankly, in some instances, excluded by the IT folks.
So, to the extent now that the current administration is going to be giving more of an audience, if you will, to the staff as the ultimate end-users, for us is an improvement and we will continue to monitor the situation.”
Tax collections are expected to increase about 14 million dollars this year and Chu-Takayama says that requires a lot of work.
“We do have another tax filing deadline in April and we are wanting to make sure, at the same time, that we’ve got the old systems up and running so that taxpayers are able to file, at the same time, we’re working on the new system which will hopefully be premiered in November.”