Letters for Friday, July 8, 2011

• Am I missing something? • Lighten up,

people • No need for SB 1520

Am I missing something?

Just a few days ago, while at an unrelated meeting, I was handed a piece of mail from the “State Department of Taxation”.

I say, “handed” to me, because it was not mailed to my proper address. In spite of filling out the proper “change of address” forms and notifying the State Department of Taxation of my new mailing address at least three separate times, one department, or “branch” just seems to ignore that change and continues to send all correspondence to my original address, where I have not lived for about five years. But that’s not the real interesting part of my story.

The letter that was handed to me was actually a notice from the “Collection Branch” of the State of Hawai‘i, Department of Taxation. I opened the letter and the first thing I saw, which almost gave me a heart attack, was the part that read “amount due: $22,519.26.”

I put the letter away and concentrated on the meeting.

Now I keep very good records and after the meeting, and a short drive home I opened the letter again and read through all of it. As soon as I read a little further, I realized that the State of Hawai‘i has a real problem. Apparently they decided that my TAT was to be calculated at a rate of 925 percent instead of 9.25 percent. Someone left out a decimal point, either from the percentage of TAT or from the amount earned that month.

The letter indicated that my “Tax Liability” for the month of May was a total of $22,596.09. Now, I can understand how someone may make that mistake, but make the mistake and then not realize the absurdity of the result of that mistake, is totally and completely unacceptable and incompetent.

In order for my tax liability to be $22,596.09, I would have had to receive as much as $244,282 during the month of May. That’s about $7,880 per day. Now I know that there are some real nice vacation rentals on Kaua‘i, and I think that mine is a very nice one, but I don’t think there are many that rent for $7,880 per day. Or maybe I’m wrong.

Nevertheless, unless the entire process is performed by a computer, or some other type of machine, I have to assume that someone, hopefully a state employee with some intelligence, had to have put the information in as envelope and take it to the mail room. Or maybe I’m assuming too much. The “union” may not allow that.

The reason I am writing about this is because I cannot help but wonder if this, or something similar has happened to anyone else recently.

Now I know, from experience that if I don’t take care of this situation right away, any future “correct” payments that I make will likely be applied to this erroneous “amount due” and everything else will continue to accrue interest and penalties. What a hassle!

So, a few days later, after the holiday, I attempted to make a phone call to the “Collection Branch” and eventually got that same irritating recorded message that we all get way to often when we call a company or organization. You know what I’m talking about: “All agents are busy with other customers, blah, blah. blah”.

According to the very intelligent sounding recorded message, my wait would be 54 minutes long. I hung up.

Today I found a method of taking care of this problem that turned out to be a little more efficient. I took all my paper work to the State Tax Office in Lihu‘e and within about 20 minutes, it was all taken care of. Thank you ladies in the Lihu‘e State Tax Office.

While on the subject of paying taxes, has anyone else noticed that the State Department of Taxation sometimes takes months to cash your check? Am I missing something here or does the state not need my money? If the state is in such a dismal financial situation, it seems to me that it would be much more efficient to process our checks in a timely manner. Or, as I said, am I missing something?

I only hope that the governor’s “requested resignations” does not overlook the Department of Taxation.

Larry Arruda, Lihu‘e

Lighten up, people

Hey, I don’t know about you but I thought the Polynesians were happy, joyful people.

The ceremony at the beach was solemn to the max. I thought I was watching a funeral.

Are we taking ourselves too seriously here? Can we lighten things up a little and still be true to our heritage?

Pieter Myers, Ha‘ena

No need for SB 1520

The bill signed by Gov. Neil Abercrombie into law only reconfirms the fact that the Native Hawaiians are recognized as the first people of Hawai‘i. There is no need of a law to formally recognize Native Hawaiians as the only “indigenous, aboriginal, maoli people of Hawai‘i.” By historical accounts this has been accepted.

If every generation of Native Hawaiians since the 1893 overthrow of the Hawaiian Monarchy felt as Sen. Malama Solomon says they feel — struggling with not being “legally recognized as equals” — she should look at the progress of OHA, the Department of Hawaiian Homelands, Kamehameha Schools, and other institutions and programs for the advancement of all Hawaiians. The opportunities are there and growing if Native Hawaiians want to take part.

Solomon’s statement is politically and economically false.

Abercrombie and Solomon portray the Native Hawaiians as a “conquered people” and as second class citizens.

As is the governor’s style in failing to elaborate, a new chapter to the Hawai‘i Revised Statutes will be added establishing a process for Native Hawaiians to organize themselves.

Drew Kosora, Honolulu

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