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DOC "Taxes" Oklahoma Prisoners

By Jeff Lea

This year state lawmakers determined that Oklahoma taxpayers were paying too much state sales tax and would continue to do so in the future. Accordingly, they passed a bill allowing the tax agency to refund $20.00 this year and $40.00 each year after this, to each and every Oklahoma resident. It was soon realized that prisoners would also want their money...the lawmakers stated there was no provision in the bill stopping payment to incarcerated persons. It was determined that to stop "us" from getting the money, action would have to be taken that would come into effect at the time they refund 1991 overpayments.

Inmates began to file for their refund and began to receive same. The DOC decided they didn't like it. Without a law or written departmental policy, they began freezing the $20 checks as they came in! Anyone that had already spent the money on canteen had their account tapped for the money. If you didn't have $20, they took the money as your family sent it in or they took it from the "gang pay" they pay each month for working for the DOC. This averages out to $7 to $12 for each month of work. Of this amount, 20% is withheld and put into a mandatory savings account that was established by law to ensure that upon release each person has at least $50.00. Any amount less than $50 and the DOC must pay to bring the total to $50.

It has been noted, and we the population feel, but have not proven, that DOC makes money off the interest of this money. We receive no interest.

At this time the money is still being withheld from us. DOC is attempting to find a way to force us to put it in our mandatory savings account, thereby reducing their assumed contingent liabilities OR, find a way to make us give it back to the state.

I feel this is unfair as we pay sales tax on everything we purchase on the outside such as clothing, draft supplies, and educational materials for college. We also feel the high prices on the canteen reflect a certain amount figured into account for sales tax. This action would bring forth a question if we are not entitled to refunds due to overpayments in sales tax should we be exempt from paying sales tax to start with? This is like taking our federal and state tax refund money. This is money we were told we have to pay, then they found we had paid too much. In effect, we overpaid a bill and the DOC wants to pocket the difference!

The tax form you fill out allows for each dependent you claim, this includes children. It does not require each person to be an income tax payer The dependent amount is then multiplied times $20 to determine the amount the filer will receive.

Is there anyone out there that can advise us on this problem? If so, please contact:

Jeffrey Lea #181231
P.O. Box 260
Lexington, OK 73051.

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