by Ken Quintanilla
Guam - The Governor's Office is calling out Senator Rory Respicio for
comments made over the payment of tax refunds.
Director of communications Troy Torres wrote to the majority
leader over comments made on Guam grabs where Respicio makes claims that the
governor "used $50-million in tax refund money for operations, and now people
have to wait against for their refund checks.
Torres says this is a "bold-faced lie" questioning whether Respicio has examined the
actual data saying "if you did, you'd know your statement is false. If you
didn't your statement is reckless, disregards your duty to the truth in
representations and is at best a made-up assertion meant to advance political
purpose." Torres goes on to state that the people deserve to know the truth and
"I will not allow one more day to go by with you or anyone else spreading this
false information to the public so that you can feed off of their struggles for
your political advancement."
Torres further invites Senator Respicio for a meeting to provide
the people all the facts and documentations to substantiate his claims.
Respicio replied to Torres' letter saying he would only entertain
a response from the governor and to include a meeting with him so he can
explain why he is "not paying for all the processed tax refunds up until February
Torres meanwhile says he is certain the governor would take up any
opportunity to defend his record against assault. He says a presentation will
take place at 3pm on Monday in the Governor's Conference Room to provide all
the documentations on the matter - even if Respicio does not show up.
Listed below are the eight points Torres outlines as to why Respicio's
claims are false:
- Refunds are not late. They are being paid faster than anyone has ever paid them in over 20 years. That was before your career in public service began. Since then and until Governor Calvo fixed this problem, refunds were paid as late as four years after taxpayers filed for them.
- When checks go out Friday, the latest payments owed in tax refunds will be to people with Status-A returns filedFebruary 4, six weeks ago. Even if we went to February 6, we wouldn't be able to pay past that date because DRT is only done processing returns up to that date. Why? Following the January 30 announcement by the Governor that first series of tax refunds for returns filed this year would be paid, thousands of tax payers filed their refunds the very next day (Friday, January 31) and in the ensuing week (February 3 through 7). I will not be surprised if, after reading this revelation, you passed a resolution requesting DRT to process refunds faster.
- Let me save you some time from writing that resolution to first commend the DRT staff for the amazing turnaround in processing that this is. They have processed 8,000 error-free tax refunds, not to mention the returns that have refund errors or suspensions and the returns where filers have to pay. That is about one-fifth of everything that is expected to be filed this year with less than one-quarter of the year done, and well before April 15. The $34 million in total tax refund payments? That's nearly a third of everything that's supposed to go out by the end of this year. We are only on March 16. As you have challenged the Governor with innuendo and falsehoods, I challenge you to explain when in your career in public service have you effectuated such a robust system, mechanism, ways or means for refunds to be paid this quickly. I suggest you simply thank the men and women of Rev & Tax, BBMR, and DOA for their very hard work in this regard and in everything they have done to turn this government around from the ship wreck that was the unsustainable fiscal policy of the Democratic majority since 2009.
- Before you start replying that the only reason the Governor is paying refunds is because of a court order, let me remind you of two things: the Governor was paying refunds timely well before the court injunction. And, the order requires the clock to start ticking on April 15. I'm going to take a guess that nearly half, if not over, of all tax refunds for this year are paid even before the clock starts ticking.
- In the 10 years preceding the Governor's administration since the creation of the Efficient Trust Fund in 2002, the fund was to collect about $1B, and only about $100M ever was deposited there.
- The $50M you reference was used to pay tax refunds. Actually, over $130M was used to pay tax refunds. That was more than even the Legislature allocated from the revenue provisions.
- 2013 was the very first time the Trust Fund ever collected to its full amount. As a matter of fact, even more money was deposited into that account than was required. While the Legislature had no foresight to sue an administration in the 11 years preceding this when funds were not deposited at the amounts you are demanding, you did see fit to sue this Governor for financials in the first and only year the fund was fully funded. I suppose by your perspective it is okay to owe the people and not the bank, but if the bank account is full, then somehow the people deserve a political circus that drags their Governor to court, needlessly.
- More tax refunds were paid in 2013 than the law required or the Legislature envisioned.