The much-anticipated opening of the application period for the All-RISE program had a rocky start as long lines formed at the Department of Revenue and Taxation drive-thru and those filing online had problems getting through.
Although DRT director Dafne Shimizu recommended that applicants file online, there was still a long line of cars at Rev & Tax going all the way past the Mobil station and all the way to Barrigada Heights.
Many were in line as early as Tuesday night just to ensure that they would be among the first to be processed.
Del Ikan said he had been in line at Rev & Tax since 7 pm Tuesday night in order to be one of the first to turn in his All-RISE application while Wendell Alba had been in line at Rev & Tax since 10 pm Tuesday night.
Although the official start was 7 am, DRT decided to open its gate and parking lot at 6 am. Despite this, there was still a long backlog of cars.
The Guam Police Department was present in full force to help motorists and help direct traffic. They also issued a traffic flow plan to ensure an orderly flow of cars into the DRT compound.
Those who were filing online didn’t fare any better, at least at first. During the first minutes after the online application started at 7 am, people were calling up NewsTalk K57, complaining that they couldn’t get through the All-RISE online application.
Eventually, the online application problems were smoothed out and as of 9:22 am, DRT says 3,000 have already successfully filed online.
The processing of applications eventually began to progress and by the end of the first day of the All-RISE application period, over 3,300 applications were received in-person and 13,888 applications were received online.
By late afternoon, the line at the DRT All-RISE drive-through had almost dissipated.
Rev & Tax director Daphne Shimizu said DRT personnel and other personnel from various GovGuam agencies who were tapped to help out had undergone extensive training to make the application process as quick and as efficient as possible.
Shimizu said they also established a system to accurately monitor and keep track of all the applications coming in, especially the order by which they come in since the program has a first-in, first-out policy.
“Now, we recognize that this is a concern. So our team put together a system for making sure that we keep a good track of whose applications are coming in. So we had a system to track applications,” the DRT director said during an interview with NewsTalk K57’s Patti Arroyo.
She added that throughout the day, they had a running tally to make sure that they have a good handle on how many applications were being received.
“And in fact, our team is prepared to begin processing as soon as we started receiving applications,” she said.
According to Shimizu, this is the first program that they’re not allowing the dropbox to be used and not allowing people to mail in the forms.
“We wanted to eliminate other outside methods of submission because we want to be very controlled in terms of how we accept applications,” Shimizu said.
In terms of actual processing, Shimizu pointed out that online filing is faster which is why DRT is recommending this mode of application.
“Once you file online, as long as all information is correct and accurate, it’s already basically in our system. And if we’re able to determine eligibility or this system checks eligibility, it’s basically done kind of right then and there,” Shimizu said.
In contrast, during the manual process, Shimizu said this takes more time.
“I can’t tell you exactly how many minutes or how long it will be, but the basic process is this: when you come in, you’re going to hand your copies down to somebody, then somebody’s going to take a copy and bring it inside to our building. We’re going to go ahead and account for those, then somebody’s going to have to take that form and go ahead and enter it in the system. So obviously there’s going to be some time involved in that and there will be a difference between the amount of time involved in filing online versus filing manually,” Shimizu said.
She added: “And that’s why we’re highly recommending that people file online because it’s faster, quicker, and easier for the taxpayer or the filer. It’s also going to be quicker for us to be able to process.”
Shimizu said their tech people are continuing to work hard to prevent the early hiccups from happening again and ensure that the online application process becomes problem-free.