Governor taps labor head to take over state tax department

The head of the state Department of Taxation has abruptly resigned in the midst of allegations by state workers that a large and costly computer processing changeover isn’t working.

Gov. David Ige confirmed Wednesday that he accepted the resignation of director Maria Zielinski, which was submitted Monday.

“In her message to her department, she mentioned about wanting to spend more time on Maui and wanting to move back to Maui,” Ige said.

According to Ige, her resignation was not directly related to the Tax System Modernization project.

The new computer system already is handling excise and corporate taxes, with its last two phases yet to come, the biggest being processing of personal income taxes.

“We do believe that it will improve the operations in the tax department, and (the system) is new, so we are committed to ensuring every employee receives the training they need to be successful in operating in the new system,” Ige said.

“Do you believe that it works as intended at this point?” KHON2 asked.

“Yes, I do,” he said.

Ige appointed Linda Chu Takayama as interim director, effective Monday, Dec. 11.

Takayama currently heads the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.

Ige sent her nomination to the Senate for confirmation.

In the meantime, current deputy director, Damien Elefante, will serve as acting director.

Ige says he is also working to fill the void in the labor department and an announcement will be made shortly.

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