Rev and Tax warns about difficulties in implementing Bill 126

Department of Revenue and Taxation (PNC file photo)

While it sympathizes with the plight of the homeless, the Department of Revenue Taxation warned that facilitating Guam identification cards for homeless people may stretch DRT’s already thin resources.

This warning was aired during the public hearing for Bill 126, introduced by Senator Mary Camacho Torres, which would require DRT to establish an exceptions process for homeless individuals trying to obtaining a Guam ID card.

DRT Director Daphne Shimizu testified that her department may need more money to fund the mandates that DRT has to comply with under Bill 126.

Cited as the “Homeless Youth and Families Identification Act,” Bill 126 responds to a growing problem reported among Guam’s homeless population.

According to data from the Guam Homeless Coalition’s most recent Point-in-Time Count Report, the number of responses citing “no identification as a barrier” doubled between 2017 and 2018.

Given that applicants must prove their identity to get a job, sign a lease, open a bank account, and access other basic but critical services, Senator Torres said simplifying the ID process is key to unlocking opportunity and curbing Guam’s homeless population.

Shimizu said she supports the intent of Bill 126. But aside from funding issues, she said there may be other barriers to the bill’s implementation.

These costs include the cost involved in verifying the identities of homeless people and the cost of obtaining social security cards.

Shimizu added that DRT itself is not capable of identifying who the legally homeless are. She said this task would have to be carried out by other agencies, such as the Department of Public Health and Social Services when it comes to the tracking of birth certificates.

Moreover, Shimizu said the mayors would also have to get involved to verify if homeless residents are residing in their respective villages.

Because of this, Shimizu said it make take months before Bill 126 can be implemented if it is signed into law.

Shimizu recommended that the bill be amended to provide additional time for verification purposes.

She said this is needed so that verifications are not rushed and they are done carefully so as not to compromise the integrity of the Guam ID system.

Shimizu assured, though, that if homeless people are already in the DRT system, they can be issued temporary IDs.

She also pointed out that in other jurisdictions, IDs from social services agencies or non-profit organizations serve as possible alternative sources of IDs.