Monday, September 22, 2014

Connecticut launches tax help video in Spanish

Connecticut launches video to help Spanish-speaking taxpayers navigate state tax forms

Posted on Aug. 16, 2014 at 12:00 a.m. | Updated on Aug. 16, 2014 at 9:51 a.m.

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut has launched a video to help Spanish-speaking residents navigate state tax forms.

Kevin Sullivan, commissioner of the Department of Revenue Services, makes the introduction to the nearly 13-minute video in Spanish.

“Hola,” he says before a Spanish-speaking woman takes over to walk taxpayers through state tax forms. The video demonstrates how to electronically file a state sales and use tax return.

Owners of small businesses, like other business taxpayers in Connecticut, “cannot comply with state tax laws if they don’t understand what is expected of them,” Sullivan said. The agency must serve taxpayers, “not just collect their taxes,” he said.

Spanish-speaking residents represent about 15 percent of Connecticut’s population, and nearly 14,000 Hispanic-owned businesses are in the state, officials said.

The idea for the video emerged from a task force established to evaluate the state’s communications policies, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said.

The electronic filing video is the first of what Sullivan said he hopes will become numerous Spanish-language video tutorials. Since Sullivan became commissioner in 2011, the tax agency has added the Google language translator to the agency’s website and has begun to identify letters to translate into Spanish.

“This additional step is to make the website more welcoming. It’s a no-brainer,” Sullivan said.

Tax agency officials also will reach out to Spanish-language media to promote the video.

Mark Zampino, spokesman for the Connecticut Society of Certified Public Accountants, said the video is a good move.

“We’re always looking for CPAs who speak Spanish, Polish and Russian,” he said.

Taxes will play a prominent role in Malloy’s campaign for a second term. The Democratic governor and Democrat-led legislature increased income and sales taxes in 2011 to close budget deficits, which has drawn sharp and repeated complaints from critics and rival Republicans.

As Malloy defends his fiscal policies, he also is pointing to changes to make the state’s tax code simpler and more accessible. For example, the administration has been looking at ways to rewrite complicated instructions on state tax forms and has solicited suggestions to make business taxes less burdensome.

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