New online tax system will streamline process, could help detect fraud

New HI online tax system will streamline process, could help detect fraud
Published: Sep. 5, 2016 at 6:01 PM HST|Updated: Sep. 5, 2016 at 11:23 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii has joined 22 other states by launching an online tax system.

The automated program is already available to some taxpayers, including those who pay General Excise Taxes like business owners, rental companies and ride-sharing drivers.

"They can go online and actually look at their accounts and not only see their information but if there are any letters that we've sent to them… any correspondence … they can see if there are any payments due they can make payments online," says Maria Zielinski, the State Tax Director.

While the system, Hawaii Tax Online, is designed to make paying easier, it will eventually help the state keep better track of those who may not be paying their fair share.  The next phase of the $59M system is expected to help investigations find illegal vacation rentals that have been operating off the radar.

"So they can do their job better so they can identify vacation fraud, you know, people renting houses out and not paying their taxes," says Zielinski.

If all goes as planned, investigators will be able to cross check the information that rental owners input with IRS forms to see if there are any discrepancies.

By the year 2018, all Hawaii taxpayers will be able to use the automated system.  While it will reduce the need for workers to manually input the information, it will allow them to shift their focus to enforcement and customer service.

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