Taxpayers receiving a refund from the state of Illinois this year may be surprised when they put the pre-printed address label on the envelope. The return is sent to a box number in Galesburg. Disabled persons who work for Bridgeway, Inc. are doing the tax work as part of a state contract.
Taxpayers receiving a refund from the state of Illinois this year may be surprised when they put the pre-printed address label on the envelope. The return is sent to a box number in Galesburg.
Disabled persons who work for Bridgeway Inc. are doing work as part of a state contract. Bridgeway is a not-for-profit organization that provides services and employment opportunities for the disabled.
“The Bridgeway folks are part of a statewide process to help companies who hire disabled persons,” said Illinois Department of Revenue spokeswoman Susan Hofer.
About 90 people work part time, equal to about 20 full-time jobs, Hofer said, opening envelopes, stacking the forms and making sure all tax forms required were mailed. The forms are then sent to Springfield for final filing and scanning.
“They put it into batches, too,” she said, “so that we know when the returns were received.
“They don’t actually do the processing that generates the refund,” Hofer said. “They get it to the point it’s ready to be scanned and checks prepared.”
The bulk of the work is done in February, March and April, Hofer said.
“They go through about 350,000 in a (tax) season,” she said. “They did 430,000 all of last year.”
She said that the contract with Bridgeway began in 2008. Because it was during the middle of the tax season, people filing taxes still sent their returns to a Springfield address, then the forms were picked up and brought to Galesburg.
“We separate (the forms of) the people who are getting refunds from those who have to pay to speed up the process,” Hofer said. “The refunds get processed more quickly.”
The paperwork for those taxpayers who owe money is done by temporary workers in Springfield. The checks are processed by state employees.
“The primary goal is to provide useful work for people who need help,” Hofer said. “What we’re asking of them is very seasonal work. We use temps in Springfield for the same reason. This is seasonal.
“I think the key is it’s using temporary workers; in this case, mostly people who have disabilities,” she said. “We’re not taking away full-time jobs from people.”
Hofer said the hope is to be able to eliminate these jobs eventually — much as the state is happy to provide them — by persuading people to file their returns electronically.
“We estimate as many as 60 percent of all state income taxes will be filed electronically this year,” she said.
The advantage, Hofer said, is that those who file electronically receive their refunds in about a week. And, even if you file electronically, “If you owe money, you don’t have to pay until April 15.”
Hofer was unsure how long the contract is with Bridgeway, although she said it is “possibly” three years.
John R. Pulliam can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org