State roundup for August 5
Taxpayers to receive refunds
HONOLULU (AP) — Taxpayers who paid double their balances because of a mistaken notice will automatically receive refunds in the next two to three weeks, Hawaii tax officials said.
The Tax Department said taxpayers will automatically be paid by check without needing to do anything further.
Officials say the confusion came because letters were sent to taxpayers who mailed paper checks close to an April 20 deadline.
Arikka Johnson, a resident hall director at Chaminade University, said she assumed she had made an error when she paid her balance twice.
“I just assumed since they were the state Tax Department that they were in the right,” she said. “That was my biggest mistake.”
Tax Department spokeswoman Mallory Fujitani said the agency is assessing how many incorrect bills were sent.
The agency has recently struggled with its $87.5 million computer system, which was modernized by the same contractor that built Hawaii’s troubled health insurance exchange. The department is preparing to spend another $32 million for a new system.
State legislators approved $3 million for upgrades in fiscal 2015.
“This type of project requires significant preparation and there are (tax office) employees who are working full time on assessing the department’s current operations,” Fujitani said.
Coast Guard rescues boaters
HONOLULU (AP) — The Coast Guard said eight people were rescued in Hawaii waters after their vessel sank.
The Coast Guard said no injuries were reported among those rescued. The group was able to tie three kayaks together and cling to them before rescuers arrived Sunday.
Those on board the 21-foot recreational vessel were wearing lifejackets at the time of the sinking in Kaiwi Channel.
The Joint Rescue Coordination Center in Honolulu received a signal that people could be in trouble about 12 miles West of Molokai. That was followed by a call from a father saying his son and seven others were in distress in the area of the signal.
The boaters were rescued by a Coast Guard helicopter crew.
Tourist dies after snorkeling
HONOLULU (AP) — A 43-year-old Baltimore man died after he ran into trouble while snorkeling in Hawaii.
The man was snorkeling by himself Sunday at Hanauma Bay. The man was taken to shore by lifeguards who performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation until paramedics arrived.
Honolulu police said the man was transported to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
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