Question: I never got the tax adjustment for my unemployment benefits. Are they still doing that?
Answer: Yes. The Internal Revenue Service is on its fourth round of refunds to taxpayers who overpaid their federal income taxes because they filed their taxes before some unemployment benefits were excluded from taxation. The agency says it will continue reviewing and adjusting federal tax returns throughout the summer. It started with the simplest returns and has moved on to more complex ones.
The IRS will either refund overpayments or apply them to outstanding taxes or other federal or state debts the taxpayer owes, the agency said in an update Thursday.
This topic has been of high interest in Hawaii, where the pandemic and the government’s response to it put so many people out of work and on the unemployment rolls. The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 excluded up to $10,200 in 2020 unemployment compensation from taxable income for filers whose modified adjusted gross income was under $150,000. It was not approved until March, after many people had already filed their federal income tax returns.
Q: When will the repaving of the Pali Highway from Castle Junction to Vineyard Boulevard be completed?
A: This work is part of Pali Highway Phase 2 improvements, which are now estimated to be finished by late October 2022, according to the state Department of Transportation. The repaving itself is expected to be underway by early next year. There’s a 24/7 phone hot line for questions or concerns about the project, which you can call at 945-1111.
Phase 2, which the DOT previously anticipated would be done by the end of 2020, includes resurfacing the Pali Highway from Vineyard Boulevard to Waokanaka Street, according to the department’s website.
Q: If I had COVID-19 last year, can I get it again?
A: Yes, re-infection has been documented throughout the pandemic, and remains true with the delta variant, the virulent strain predominating now. People who have recovered from COVID-19 should be vaccinated against the disease, health officials say. The vaccine is freely available for people ages 12 and up. Find more information at hawaii covid19.com/vaccine/.
Q: I understand how hard it must be for spouses and parents and children who can’t visit their incarcerated family members (808ne.ws/725kline), but I also understand that the state must do all it can to prevent COVID-19 from spreading. If only more inmates would get vaccinated, maybe they could restore visits.
A: The same could be said of Department of Public Safety employees. In fact, prison inmates seem more likely than DPS employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19, according to information provided by the department.
On June 21, 73% of inmates in Hawaii’s prisons were fully vaccinated, with rates ranging from 51% to 89% depending on the facility (there are four holding sentenced inmates). Vaccination rates were lower in Hawaii’s jails (where many detainees are straight off the streets and held relatively briefly). In jails on that day, 42% of detainees were fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with rates ranging from 23% to 58% among the four jails statewide, according to figures compiled by the department’s Health Care Division.
By contrast, a survey of all DPS employees found that 32% were vaccinated, 9% were willing to be vaccinated and 11% were unwilling to be vaccinated; 48% of employees did not respond to the survey, which was tallied June 21.
The survey was distributed to all of the department’s 2,334 employees, not only those based in prisons or jails, said Toni Schwartz, a spokeswoman for the department.
The figures do not provide a direct comparison but do provide a snapshot of COVID-19 vaccination at the time. Schwartz said last week that the statistics were the most recent available.
Earlier this month, while shopping at Salt Lake Safeway, I was very surprised. A kind man named Jason reached over and paid for my milk and peaches. With all the problems and the virus we are experiencing, the pleasant gesture was indeed a godsend. Yes, the spirit of aloha is still lurking around. — M.O.
Write to Kokua Line at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or email [email protected]