By JOHN BURNETT
Tribune-Herald staff writer
The state Department of Taxation is still hoping that a lost courier bag with missing tax documents will turn up intact — or failing that, that taxpayers affected by the loss will contact the department to refile their papers.
“We’ve had a few taxpayers coming in, but as far as police finding the bag, none of that yet,” Department of Taxation spokeswoman Mallory Fujitani said Wednesday. “We’re hoping, too. How does it just disappear?”
The department disclosed last week that a bag with completed tax documents from the Hilo and Kona offices, which were destined for an air cargo flight for Honolulu, went missing Oct. 4. A driver for Security Armored Car & Courier Service of Hawaii, which has a contract with the state tax department, reported that the documents went missing from the back of a truck while delivering the cargo to the airport.
Fujitani said last week that the missing bag contained “approximately 75 documents, and then approximately six documents that were filed with the department that included the payment of cash.” She said the cash had been deposited in a Hilo bank allowing the department to identify those six taxpayers.
The missing Kona office documents were mailed or dropped off between Sept. 24 and Oct. 1 while the Hilo office documents were mailed between Oct. 1-3 or dropped off on Oct. 3 and 4, Fujitani said.
She said that the Kona documents were business license application and cancellation forms, while the lost Hilo items include what she described as “a range of documents” including business license and cancellation forms, general excise tax periodic and reconciliation forms as well as “some individual tax returns.”
Fujitani said that taxpayers’ Social Security numbers were on the individual tax returns and that there were checks among the missing documents, but she couldn’t say how much money had gone missing.
Fujitani said that the Hawaii District Tax Office in Hilo has had some inquiries from taxpayers concerned that their documents were among those lost.
Police Capt. Robert Wagner of South Hilo Patrol said there are “no leads” on the missing courier bag.
“We don’t usually spend a lot of time on these (lost property reports),” he said. “We’ll go around the route to retrace, but there’s not a whole lot more we can do in those circumstances.”
Fujitani said the tax department’s contract with the courier expires on Nov. 30.
“We’re following our usual process and our requirements,” she said. “In particular, because of this incident, we do have our (deputy) attorney general trying to identify other ways to make sure that these issues are addressed, to make sure that our requirements are in order.”
Deputy Attorney General Kathryn Kanemori said the lost courier bag “could have an effect” on the terms and provisions of the next contract, but she wouldn’t elaborate.
She said it is possible that the current courier contract could be temporarily extended while the details of the next contract is worked out. She said the request process for bids has not yet occurred.
Neither Kanemori nor Fujitani knew when bid proposals on a new contract would be solicited, but both said they want to be sure that security concerns are addressed before a new bid process is undertaken.
“No one recalls this ever happening before, where we’ve lost documents through the courier process,” Fujitani said.
Businesses and individual taxpayers who believe their documents may be affected by this incident are asked to contact the department’s Hilo office at 974-6321.
Email John Burnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.