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Governor finally releasing refunds, slowly

By Johnnie Rosario

Check your mail if you’re owed a tax refund and you filed on or before March 31, 2019. The Department of Administration has mailed out some of the checks, which should be in mail boxes no later than tomorrow, and may be in the mail now. DOA will be mailing out more checks between now and Monday.

Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero

Earlier in the week Governor Lou Leon Guerrero announced that some $25 million in tax refunds checks covering A-status filings through March 31 would be released. Kandit exclusively reported the printing of checks at the Department of Revenue and Taxation Tuesday night.

We confirmed with DOA that the checks were delivered to the ITC building Wednesday morning, but that the Governor’s Office directed that the checks not be released until today.

The checks were written from the government’s checking accounts, which are held at the Bank of Guam. Ms. Leon Guerrero’s family owns and runs the bank.

When asked why the administration is withholding the payments of refunds Wednesday, governor’s director of policy Carlo Branch told Kandit that it takes time to stuff the 11,000 checks into envelopes then post mark the envelopes.

DOA financial manager Goody Rosario confirmed to us that the Governor’s Office had not sent a team from the other financial agencies to help with the preparation of the checks for mailing, as routinely done under the Calvo administration in order to get the checks out to taxpayers faster.

Mr. Branch said the Governor’s Office was doing all it could to make haste with the payments.

This payment of $25 million does not settle the issue of $17 million in prior year tax refund payments owed even prior to the 2018 tax refunds can be paid. According to the August report of tax refunds, more than $11 million in tax refunds are owed to corporate income filers and more than $5.5 million owed to individual income filers for tax years prior to 2018.

According to the permanent injunction by the District Court of Guam regarding the payment of refunds, those refunds must be paid first. The Governor’s Office has not returned calls for comments on whether these refunds have been paid yet.

Meanwhile, the balance of the funds from the Section 30 money, which paid for this round of refunds, remains in the Bank of Guam trust account. It is a savings account, holding excess deposits that earn interest to the Bank from the Federal Reserve. The Bank of Guam is earning thousands of dollars per day on this money, which belongs to the taxpayers.

The Governor’s Office also is not returning calls for comment on this issue.

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