Tax Commission to furlough employees
BY BARBARA HOBEROCK World Capitol Bureau
Friday, January 08, 2010
1/08/10 at 4:35 AM
OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma Tax Commission employees will serve one-day furloughs in January and February as a result of budget cuts, the agency said Thursday.
"The Oklahoma Tax Commission is emphasizing the importance of electronic filing," commission spokeswoman Paula Ross said. "With furloughs and cutbacks in manpower, it is the best way for Oklahomans to ensure a quick refund."
Ross said an electronically filed tax return should take no more than seven days to process, while a paper return, depending on the time of year, can take as long as 12 weeks.
Ross said it is hard to tell whether the furloughs and other cutbacks will delay the processing of paper returns.
Tax Commission employees who are paid more than $25,000 will be subject to the furloughs, Ross said.
All but 100 of the agency's 850 employees will be affected, she said.
The Tax Commission also will hire fewer temporary employees to open the mail during its busiest season. Between 200 and 250 employees normally are hired during tax-filing season, Ross said.
To compensate, the agency plans to divert employees from other divisions to the mail room, she said.
The mail room processes millions of pieces of mail each year, according to the agency.
The Tax Commission has about 80 fewer employees than it did two years ago, Ross said.
A law that took effect this year requires the Tax Commission to process electronic refunds within 20 days, rather than 30. For paper returns, the agency must provide a refund within 90 days instead of 150.
If the commission misses the deadline, it must pay interest of 1.25 percent a month.
State agencies have been told to reduce their budgets as a result of declining revenue.
Other agencies implementing furloughs are the Office of Juvenile Affairs, the Department of Tourism and Recreation, the Oklahoma Indigent Defense System, the Office of Disability Concerns, the Pardon and Parole Board and the Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry.
Barbara Hoberock (405) 528-2465