AP: Unfilled positions lead to drop in state tax collections

2/19/2013

TOPEKA (AP) — With more than two dozen job openings in the Kansas Department of Revenue, the state is facing the possibility of a drop in collection of delinquent taxes for the first time since 2005.

TOPEKA (AP) — With more than two dozen job openings in the Kansas Department of Revenue, the state is facing the possibility of a drop in collection of delinquent taxes for the first time since 2005.

In response to the possibility of an $18 million decline in delinquent tax collections from last year, Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration is asking the Legislature to raise or impose new fees on delinquent taxpayers to fund filling some of those jobs, The Kansas City Star reported.

“I believe we should be a self-funding model,” said Jeff Scott, chief compliance officer at the Department of Revenue.

The department reported 28 openings out of about 190 positions in the collections enforcement division, compared with 13 in November 2010, two months before Brownback was sworn into office.

Revenue officials said the job openings grew because the department could no longer move people from other areas of the agency to collections.

For example, the agency for years moved staff from processing income tax returns to collections as more residents began filing their tax returns online.

With 90 percent of Kansas taxpayers now filing online, the need to transfer employees to collections has mostly ended.

“We are unlikely to see more significant savings from savings from electronic tax filing,” Revenue Secretary Nick Jordan said in a statement.

A bill pending in the Legislature would raise from $10 to $15 the fee for setting up a plan for installment payments for accounts more than 90 days old. The fee increase could raise $450,000.

It also would charge a $50 service fee for taxpayers who ask to reduce or wipe away their tax debts to the state.

The new service charge is expected to bring in $175,000. And the bill would allow the state to keep a $22 fee for any money it turns over to the federal government for debts to the U.S. treasury.

The department had wanted to charge delinquent taxpayers a 12 percent fee on any payment on top of the interest and penalties they are already assessed, which would have brought in $17 million more revenue every year. It also would have replaced the agency’s entire appropriation from general tax dollars.

A Senate committee rejected that 12 percent fee last week and the bill is now awaiting action in the Senate. The measure could be debated this week.

In its current form, the bill would allow the revenue department to fill 12 to 14 positions for collections.

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