Kansans: e-file or wait 16 weeks
for your tax refunds
Thursday, January 21, 2010
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.
Instead, those places will get posters touting the state's e-filing system.
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)
Want to tell your friends about this blog post? Click the Tweet This or Digg This buttons below or use the Share This icon to spread the word via e-mail, Facebook and other popular applications. Thanks!
Kansas is a very greedy state. If they aren't FFing you in the backside, they are trying to get their hands in your wallet. I tried to get a homesteaders form on line, but due to the state not wanting to actually read a tax form, they have made it to where you have to request one from them (wait 2 weeks or longer for delivery) due to the form is made to only be read by a computer to save labor costs.
Posted by: john | Wednesday, February 24, 2010 at 06:33 PM
Thanks, Trish, for the added insight. I know electronic taxes are the future and the future is here, but from my years on the Taxpayer Advocacy Panel, I know of a lot of folks who just aren't there yet. Penalizing them seems like a counterproductive thing to do when you're depending on their voluntary compliance. But then when have governments, at all levels, done the smartest, most consumer friendly thing? ;-)
Posted by: Kay | Friday, January 22, 2010 at 04:27 PM
Actually, Kay, KDOR announce prior to last year's filing that processing paper returns was not going to be a priority. This year they are just announcing it to more than the preparer community.
They've been cutting back on paper forms for a while too. Years ago they stopped sending books to taxpayers who they knew were using a preparer who e-filed. A taxpayer can still request forms for personal use but preparers have to buy them.
To be honest, Kansas isn't the only state slowing paper returns and cutting back on forms. I do a lot of Oklahoma returns since I am on the border and I have not been able to get an OK book for a couple of years. And it can take months for a paper return to be processed. And the worse part is that OK doesn't allow non-residents to e-file, they have to be on paper.
I agree about the $25 threat. I hope it is just that, a threat. Something to get in the news.
Posted by: Trish | Friday, January 22, 2010 at 09:29 AM