“The hardworking GovGuam employees and managers at the Department of Revenue and Taxation have worked diligently these past three years to be the best they can be. I want these employees to know they’re appreciated. And, despite the attacks that sometimes come from our critics, I want them to know that I recognize the work they do, Guamanians appreciate their efforts, and we know things are getting better and better every day. We’re headed in the right direction.” — Governor Eddie Baza Calvo
Improvements made for businesses, drivers, taxpayers
The Department of Revenue and Taxation (DRT) has made significant improvements over the course of the Calvo Tenorio administration to provide better customer service and increase government revenue without raising taxes. We would like to share this information with you, so you can be informed of the truth about DRT. We want you to be aware of the hard work of DRT employees in light of its oversight hearing at the Legislature today.
Below, you will find details on how DRT has improved on a number of important functions to every Guamanian. Many of these problems are decades old, and were only fixed under the Calvo Tenorio administration. While challenges remain, we want you to know we are on top of these challenges with solutions. These is a lot of on-going work that will further improve DRT.
Services put online; Wait times decrease; More money for schools
The department has implemented a very successful online scheduler feature for customers to schedule an appointment at their convenience. This service offers customers to forgo waiting lines and provides prompt service. Since its inception last year, more than 3,100 customers used online scheduling. DRT is pursuing even more online services for residents and taxpayers, such as vehicle registration renewal, business license renewal and most importantly, online payment for all DRT services. Two vendors are working together to provide online services through DRT. Due to the sensitive nature of this process, non-disclosure agreements are awaiting legal review. More information on the process to add more online services should be available at the end of the month.
Wait-time in lines at DRT
A main complaint of customers is the time spent waiting in line at DRT. Since hiring additional customer service staff, this wait time has dropped tremendously. DMV hired an additional six employees to handle customers looking to get a drivers license, renew their license, schedule road tests, or take the road test. The passport office hired six permanent, full-time staff to increase office hours. Due to this hiring, its office hours were extended from three days a week, to Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. The average wait time for customers are:
- DMV: 5-40 minutes (was 1-3 hours before 2011)
- Business taxes and documents: varies, but mostly no wait time
- Passport: varies, but mostly no wait time
Another factor in the shorter wait is the new online scheduler tool that more than 3,100 customers have used since it started last year.
Serving constituents over the phone
Each division under DRT receives at least 50 phone calls and about 70 emails per day regarding customer issues. Phone calls are answered at every possible moment. If a short-staffed office is unable to answer a call, because its representative is serving a customer in person for instance, a voice mail system is available for each branch. Voice mails are checked twice daily to ensure customers’ needs are being addressed in a timely manner. These duties are done on top of the in-person service provided by each branch. DRT is considering procuring a new phone system called AVYA, which will allow the department to better handle its high volume of calls.
Thanks to a new law, we are working to hire three additional employees specifically to collect taxes that are not paid by cash-based businesses. DRT has also notified business license-holders to comply with laws that require the reporting and payment of taxes. If violators do not respond with corrective action, DRT may impose penalties or temporarily shut down the business until they comply. This information will be transmitted to the other law enforcement organizations, like the Attorney Generals Office and the Guam Police Department for their disposition.
Great strides have been made to increase collections at DRT. The Collections Branch has hired an additional eight Revenue Officers: the employees who have the power to investigate and collect delinquent taxes. These officers reach out to delinquent individuals and businesses over the phone and through on-site visits to inform the taxpayer about his/her debt, and begin the collections process. This fieldwork has seen more compliant taxpayers. As announced in Governor Calvo’s State of the Island Address, DRT will begin forfeiture procedures for those who are delinquent in paying property taxes. This type of enforcement has never been done before Governor Calvo. There will also be a stiff consequence for anyone who is delinquent in paying their Business Privilege Tax; DRT will not renew licenses for businesses behind in paying the BPT.
After a 20-year wait, the government is finally implementing the island-wide revaluation of property. A contract to do this work was awarded this month, and the revaluation process should be completed by the end of August. Utilizing the Computer Assisted Mass Appraisal system owned by the Department of Revenue and Taxation, a mass appraisal of all residential and commercial properties will be conducted along with a valuation of all tax-exempt properties. This will provide the data necessary to upgrade and update Guam’s real property tax systems, codes and collections. This means we can expect more resources to fund public education. By law, property taxes are given to the Territorial Education Facilities Fund, which supports Guam Department of Education. This project is expected to be completed in three phases:
- Mass appraisal of all taxable residential and commercial properties
- Valuation of all tax-exempt properties, to include government and federally-owned lands
- Support for appeals
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