LIHU‘E — The state’s Department of Taxation plans to reduce staff and reorganize the Kaua‘i District Tax Office, eliminating some on-island services by the end of the year.
The proposal would cut the Office Audit Section and Field Audit Section and downsize the Collection Section and Tax Services and Clerical Section on Kaua‘i. The staff of 11 would be reduced to four.
The reorganization is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2021, Director of the Department of Taxation Isaac Choy said Monday, and will help to balance the state’s budget for the biennium.
In a Monday email, Choy said that all divisions of the state’s tax department will be affected by the current state of the economy due to the pandemic, not just the Kaua‘i office.
The effects of proposed downsizing and restructure, Choy said, would be minimal to residents.
“Any reduction in any State personnel will affect services, however, we are anticipating no noticeable reduction in services to Kaua‘i taxpayers,” Choy said in an email.
Randy Perreira, executive director of Hawai‘i Government Employees Association, which represents DOTAX union employees, believes the opposite.
“This reorganization of the Kaua‘i District Tax Office will also negatively impact the community with a reduction of DOTAX services available to residents on Kaua‘i,” Perreira wrote in a letter obtained by The Garden Island.
In the letter dated Feb. 26, Perreira included 17 questions to the department for further explanation on the proposed downsizing. Perreira quotes a DOTAX consultation letter in which the department cites a comprehensive review of the office, which found that “(The Kaua‘i office has) the highest rate of complaints received from taxpayers” and the “highest rate of canceled audits due to their failure to assess on time.”
Perriera, questioning the validity of these statements, asked for records and documentation. Perriera said many of these concerns have been raised by staff previously to the administration.
“We believe the changes being proposed are not justified, unfairly punish the affected employees, and is not based on a fair and objective assessment of the operations of this short-staffed district tax office,” Perriera wrote.
For over one year, office staff have raised operational and administrative issues and concerns, including office procedures, workflow, staffing and internal communication, HGEA Communications Officer Caroline Sluyter said.
“These concerns have not been properly addressed or resolved,” Sluyter said Monday. “Instead, the department is now proposing to reorganize the Kaua‘i District Office and terminate employees using the symptoms of the same issues raised by the staff as a basis for this action.”
In a letter sent to The Garden Island last week, Kaua‘i District Tax Office employees said that communications from eliminated sections will be directed to the O‘ahu District Office.
DOTAX Kaua‘i employees asked residents to reach out to state representatives to voice opinions and concerns.
“The employees of the Kaua‘i District Office would like to continue to serve the community of Kaua‘i, and we sincerely appreciate your support in this matter,” the employees wrote.