Everybody says he strives to meet and exceed customer expectations but the Hawaii Department of Taxation has actually done it.
Backstory: Faced with falling tax revenues and the constitutional requirement that the state budget be balanced, state officials were looking at yet more cuts. Then someone figured out that you could move as much as hundreds of millions of dollars into the next fiscal year by sitting on tax refunds until July. An accounting trick, yes, but it would eliminate the need for immediate real world cuts, pushing the cost item into a subsequent budget year when revenues might improve. So that's what they announced.
Which brings us to last week: When the Department of Taxation, noting that tax revenues were down only 1% rather than the 2.5% that the Council of Revenues predicted, said it could use the extra money coming in to finance some "early" refunds, by which I mean, refunds paid now rather than delayed into July. Not all of them, but those who filed in January or February. The plan was to transfer refund money to direct deposit people on Friday, May 21, and send out paper checks Friday, May 27.
But wait, there's more: As it turns out, however, the tax people not only sent 25,000 direct deposit refunds last Friday, they also sent out 4,000 paper checks, and another 6,000 Monday. More than $21 million has been paid back to taxpayers so far, and more to come. They might even work on some returns sent in March or later if enough tax revenue comes in this month and next to cover the checks, now that they're on a roll and all.
This efficiency is all the more impressive to me because I filed for extensions and have yet to send my returns in. I've been coming home from work and poring through receipts when I ought to be sleeping. I did send checks, so the state and the IRS have plenty of my money. You know those people who become expert at getting back every penny they can? I'm not the sort. Maybe one day I'll learn how. So far all I've learned is to keep my receipts. But it's a start.