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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 18, 2004

Governor’s proposed budget maintains tax enforcement efforts, strengthens operations to maximize tax collections
Budget provides full year’s savings from Lottery, Liquor Control, Racing Board savings and moves Circuit Breaker and pharmaceutical assistance

SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich announced today the Illinois Department of Revenue will continue to focus on collecting the revenues needed to pay for critical state services and will continue to emphasize tax law enforcement in Fiscal Year 2005.
 
The Governor’s proposed $976.7 million budget for Revenue reflects the $3 million administrative savings from the FY04 consolidation of the Lottery, Liquor Control Commission and Racing Board into the Department of Revenue along with the FY05 movement of the Circuit Breaker and Pharmaceutical Assistance programs to the Aging and Human Services departments.
 
“In these difficult economic times, we must assure the collection of all dollars owed the state,” said Revenue Director Brian Hamer.  “We’ve cut our budget elsewhere to allows us to hire 100 tax auditors, collectors, and investigators in FY04, who will begin generating money in FY05.”
 
Highlights in the Department of Revenue budget include:
  • Savings of $7.7 million from the elimination of 107 positions, including supervisory and support positions.
  • Funds to administer the new “refundable” Earned Income Credit that supports low-income workers
  • Implementation of FY04 loophole closings, along with those proposed in FY 05
  • Continued emphasis on electronic commerce initiatives that allow the department to reduce costs and provide better service to taxpayers
 
“We’ve streamlined our operations, allowing us to implement tax law changes, including Tax Amnesty, that generated half a billion dollars in FY04, without additional resources,” said Director Hamer.  “The agency continues to identify tax law changes that increase fairness in the state Tax Code.”
 
In FY05, the Department of Revenue will continue its push to increase the number of tax returns filed electronically.  Electronic filing reduces costs for processing returns and correcting errors, and allows the department to provide better service to taxpayers.  The department currently receives one in three individual income tax returns electronically, and will seek to increase the number of individuals filing electronically and also the amount of electronic commerce conducted by business taxpayers.
 
In FY05, the $114 million Circuit Breaker Pharmaceutical Assistance program, essentially a human service grant and prescription assistance program, will be moved from the tax agency to agencies whose missions are more closely aligned with the program, the Department on Aging and the Department of Human Services.
 
In FY05, the payments of $13.1 million in stipends to several county officials – state’s attorneys, sheriffs, coroners, and circuit clerks – will be consolidated in the Department of Revenue.  The department already pays stipends to assessing officials and county treasurers.
 
In FY05, the department will take responsibility to monitor and manage fee collections statewide, monitoring receipts and identifying the appropriate level of fees to assure that costs are being recovered.
 
In FY05, the department will increase self-help opportunities offered taxpayers, offering new ways for taxpayers to get responses to questions.  This allows the department to maintain taxpayer service in a time of declining resources and to improve the number of accurately filed returns.
 
In FY05, the department will continue to work with the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget to develop accurate revenue forecasts that will identify trends and allow the state to adjust spending in the event of changes in receipts.


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