Wednesday, February 28, 2024
Hawai'i Free Press

Current Articles | Archives

Sunday, November 12, 2017
Department of Taxation Customer Service – Don’t’ Be a Victim
By Tom Yamachika @ 4:01 AM :: 3657 Views :: Taxes

Department of Taxation Customer Service – Don’t’ Be a Victim

by Tom Yamachika, President, Tax Foundation Hawaii

In an earlier article, I wrote about customer service at the Department of Taxation. One alert reader wrote, with tongue firmly in cheek (I think), “I object to the use of the word ‘customer.’ It certainly doesn’t feel like that type of relationship to me. Maybe ‘hostage’?” he writes.

Calling a taxpayer a customer isn’t too far from reality. Taxpayers are certainly paying money. They pay for the protections and conveniences that a civilized society brings to us. It might not feel like a normal customer relationship (for one thing, we can’t return the product if we are unhappy with what is delivered) so the government employees, tax professionals, and others can contribute toward making this relationship less difficult and strained.

Yelp, a website that collects customer reviews on a wide range of businesses, apparently thought that the Department of Taxation is sufficiently like a business that people could benefit from seeing reviews. So, it has published a few of them. The remarkable thing about the reviews is that most people don’t run out of vitriol – pending long wait times, and incomprehensible computer system, arcane processes – until they actually meet an employee. One person changed a one-star review, the lowest possible, to a four-star review out of five after finally speaking with a department employee. That must have been one heck of a conversation!

Many taxpayers have experienced frustration when, just before the due date of a return, they try to sign up on the system and can’t. They then try picking up the phone to get help getting in, but are either put on hold for a tremendous amount of time or, worse, are disconnected because there is no space in the call hold queue. If all fails, the taxpayer sends in a paper form with a paper check, and is distressed when, weeks later, a notice comes in the mail accusing the taxpayer of not making the payment at all and threatening unseemly consequences.

Customer service has improved, but improvement doesn’t mean the problem has been solved completely. There are still victims. To make sure you aren’t another of them, we suggest a few things:

First, allow extra time when trying something new. A new computer system and no time before a deadline are a recipe for lots of stress. You can’t control the first ingredient, but at least you can control the second.

Second, use electronic filing and payment whenever possible. If you can’t, make sure you get a receipt. The principal advantages of electronic filing and payment are that they are recorded on the Department’s computers right away, and you get an electronic receipt from the Department. That means there is less chance of the Department’s computers accusing you of not filing or not paying when you actually did, and even if you are accused you have a receipt to wave at them.

Third, if you are trying to do something for the first time, such as register on the Hawaii Tax Online system, file your first GET return, or submit your first application for a tax clearance, consider accepting help. If you are doing something for the first time, by definition you don’t know what you’re doing! Of course that doesn’t stop people, myself included, from trying anyway; but if they have the slightest doubt they should get assistance, because there may be nuances not understood at the moment. For example, suppose you are trying to fill out a tax clearance application for a corporation. Your corporation has several shareholders, some of which are other corporations. When do you check “Corporation” as opposed to “Subsidiary Corporation,” and if you do the latter, which federal employer identification number are you supposed to put in for the “Parent”? This question is there to help the Department find the corporation’s net income tax return. If the corporation needing a clearance files a Hawaii N-30 under its own FEIN, check “Corporation.” If it’s part of a group return filed under another FEIN, check “Subsidiary Corporation” and fill in the FEIN under which the group return is filed. If this isn’t filled in correctly, the tax clearance could be delayed or denied. Better to get help on the front end than after the denial!


TEXT "follow HawaiiFreePress" to 40404

Register to Vote


808 Silent Majority

Aloha Pregnancy Care Center


Antonio Gramsci Reading List

A Place for Women in Waipio

Ballotpedia Hawaii

Broken Trust

Build More Hawaiian Homes Working Group

Christian Homeschoolers of Hawaii

Cliff Slater's Second Opinion

DVids Hawaii


Fix Oahu!

Frontline: The Fixers

Genetic Literacy Project

Grassroot Institute

Hawaii Aquarium Fish Report

Hawaii Aviation Preservation Society

Hawaii Catholic TV

Hawaii Christian Coalition

Hawaii Cigar Association

Hawaii ConCon Info

Hawaii Debt Clock

Hawaii Defense Foundation

Hawaii Family Forum

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United

Hawaii Farmer's Daughter

Hawaii Federalist Society

Hawaii Federation of Republican Women

Hawaii History Blog

Hawaii Homeschool Association

Hawaii Jihadi Trial

Hawaii Legal News

Hawaii Legal Short-Term Rental Alliance

Hawaii Matters

Hawaii's Partnership for Appropriate & Compassionate Care

Hawaii Public Charter School Network

Hawaii Rifle Association

Hawaii Shippers Council

Hawaii Smokers Alliance

Hawaii State Data Lab

Hawaii Together



Hiram Fong Papers

Homeschool Legal Defense Hawaii

Honolulu Moms for Liberty

Honolulu Navy League

Honolulu Traffic

House Minority Blog

Imua TMT

Inouye-Kwock, NYT 1992

Inside the Nature Conservancy

Inverse Condemnation

Investigative Project on Terrorism

July 4 in Hawaii

Kakaako Cares

Keep Hawaii's Heroes

Land and Power in Hawaii

Legislative Committee Analysis Tool

Lessons in Firearm Education

Lingle Years

Managed Care Matters -- Hawaii

Malama Pregnancy Center of Maui

Military Home Educators' Network Oahu

Missile Defense Advocacy

MIS Veterans Hawaii

NAMI Hawaii

National Christian Foundation Hawaii

National Parents Org Hawaii

NFIB Hawaii News

No GMO Means No Aloha

Not Dead Yet, Hawaii

NRA-ILA Hawaii

Oahu Alternative Transport


OHA Lies

Opt Out Today

Patients Rights Council Hawaii

PEACE Hawaii

People vs Machine

Practical Policy Institute of Hawaii

Pritchett Cartoons

Pro-GMO Hawaii


Rental by Owner Awareness Assn

ReRoute the Rail

Research Institute for Hawaii USA

Rick Hamada Show

RJ Rummel

Robotics Organizing Committee

School Choice in Hawaii

Sink the Jones Act

Statehood for Guam

Talking Tax

Tax Foundation of Hawaii

The Real Hanabusa

Time Out Honolulu

Trustee Akina KWO Columns

UCC Truths

US Tax Foundation Hawaii Info

VAREP Honolulu

West Maui Taxpayers Association

What Natalie Thinks

Whole Life Hawaii