HONOLULU - In just its third year, the number of Hawaii income tax returns electronically filed (e-filed) through the Joint Federal/State E-filing (JELF) program has increased dramatically over the previous year.
The total number of e-filed Hawaii returns for all of last year was just over 81,000. As of March 17th, the Department had already received over 70,000 e-filed returns!
This comes as welcome news to Department of Taxation officials who annually must hire temporary workers and contract with temporary service agencies to process the 390,000 income tax returns and 160,000 general excise and other business tax returns filed between January and April.
Paper returns need to be picked up from the post office, removed from their envelopes, sorted, batched, numbered, data entered, and filed away. E-filed returns bypass all of that front-end manual processing and speed on through.
"It is a real win-win when people e-file their returns," said State Tax Director Kurt Kawafuchi. "We save on the cost of manually processing paper returns; e-filers save on the cost and hassle of mailing their returns AND they generally get their refunds faster!"
Another benefit for e-filers is that fewer errors are made on e-filed returns. Correcting even a small computation error will result in processing delays, but the software used to prepare e-filed returns asks a number of appropriate questions and automatically performs most computations.
Only Hawaii residents filing Form N-11 can e-file their returns through the JELF program, and only selected attachments are allowed. Next year, the Department hopes to make direct deposits and electronic payments available.
Another e-filing option is available to Hawaii residents filing the short form. Form N-13 can be e-filed through the ELF program on the State's Internet Portal at www.ehawaiigov.org/efile. There is a nominal fee of $2.50 for each transaction, but only if a payment is made.
Payments can be made using an electronic check or credit card, but credit card companies will charge an additional fee for using a credit card. Anyone making a payment online should carefully check the total tax and fees being assessed before authorizing the payment.
For more information on both the JELF and ELF e-filing options, go to the Department's website at www.hawaii.gov/tax, and select "Electronic Business Information: Internet & Electronic Filing."