The Kansas Department of Revenue has thrown away the carrot. This tax filing season it's turning totally to the big stick of delayed refunds to get Sunflower State residents to file electronically.
It's not that Kansas tax collectors are simply stacking taxpayer's paper returns in a corner for four months. Budget cuts, tax officials say, are the problem.
To save money, the revenue department is not hiring temporary employees to deal with snail mailed returns. Usually 65 or so seasonal workers take care of this.
But now, existing full-time employees are just going to have deal with them when they can. And that means it could take up to 16 weeks for those revenue department workers to process paper filings.
Remember last year when the state was very slow in sending out refund checks because of legislative budget issues? I guess this year Kansas tax officials are just trying to front load the delay.
State officials are quick to point out, however, that e-filers are likely to get their refunds in a week or less.
More filing service cuts: The department also has announced that this year it's not sending paper forms to the state's public libraries, post offices and other locations where the public traditionally could pick up the necessary filing documents.
Replacing tax forms and instruction books with wall hangings will save the state around $150,000.
Another $260,000 in savings will come from the department's reduction in size -- that means fewer forms and instructions -- of its tax return booklets.
Hmmm. I wonder if there's a way to put a dollar amount on the anger and frustration of folks who find their tax filing duties hampered by these decisions?
A proposed paper filing fee: To top things off, some officials are talking about charging folks who file by paper more money.
Kansas Department of Revenue officials reportedly will ask legislators to approve a $25 fee for filing paper income tax forms and an additional $5 fee for filing a paper form for a state sales tax refund. People who file their taxes electronically wouldn't pay any fee.
I have to agree with the Lawrence Journal-World editorial that "not only would the fee charge people for something they are required to do, but it also would fall hardest on low-income and elderly Kansans who don't have computers or aren't comfortable using them to file their tax returns. Using a tax preparer would bypass the fee, but that also is something many people can’t afford."
If any kind of fee is implemented, it should be one giving e-filers a tax break. Say, for example, give me a credit for e-filing, at least enough to cover any cost associated with sending my return electronically.
But then, I've always liked carrots.
- Kansas holding onto refunds, too
- 10 states in big financial trouble
- Money-hungry states, cities tax trolling
- State tax collections nosedive
- Bet on it, states are struggling
- State tax collectors ramp up enforcement
- Of online filing and fees (Eye on the IRS)
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