Iowa s e file success story
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Iowa’s E-File Success Story. Paul E. Benson Taxpayer Services Manager MSATA 2006. Business eFile & Pay Overview. Why did we consider eFile & Pay? Past success with E-Filing of individual income tax returns Beneficial to taxpayers and department We saw the potential in expanding

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Iowa’s E-File Success Story

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Iowa s e file success story

Iowa’s E-File Success Story

Paul E. Benson

Taxpayer Services Manager

MSATA 2006


Business efile pay overview

Business eFile & Pay Overview

  • Why did we consider eFile & Pay?

    • Past success with E-Filing of individual income tax returns

    • Beneficial to taxpayers and department

    • We saw the potential in expanding

    • Wanted voluntary compliance


Business efile pay overview1

Business eFile & Pay Overview

  • Questions asked included:

    • How to simplify tax filings and collections

    • How to create efficiencies within Revenue

    • How to change the way we transact business

    • These questions resulted in a 3 year study which generated even more questions…


Business efile pay overview2

Business eFile & Pay Overview

  • Questions from the E-Commerce study:

    • How do we market our service?

    • How do we educate our customers?

    • How will we answer their questions?

    • How do we convince them to use eFile & Pay?

    • Will the users, and the department, accept the change?

  • The decision was made to move forward.


Business efile pay overview3

Business eFile & Pay Overview

  • eFile & Pay required department changes.

    • Resources were investigated & obtained

    • Shifts in the budget were negotiated

    • Marketing & educational strategies were developed

    • A new unit was formed & trained

    • All of this occurred while the former filing process remained in place


Business efile pay overview4

Business eFile & Pay Overview

  • This overview will describe the strategies that were developed and implemented, including:

    • Creation of the new eFile Service Unit

    • Benefits realized by businesses - and us

    • Marketing & education initiatives

    • Use of incentives not mandates


Why not mandate

Why Not Mandate?

  • Factors considered:

    • What would be acceptable to customers?

      • Wanted cooperation, not a mandate

    • What would policy makers want?

      • No real pressure from legislature

    • Our success with income tax E-Filing

      • Estimate 67% participation rate this year

    • Experiences of other states


Why not mandate1

Why Not Mandate?

  • Decision was made against mandating

    • No penalties at this time

    • No returns mailed to permit holders

    • Payment vouchers are mailed

    • Withholding quarterly returns: Web site only

    • Sales & Use quarterly returns: Web site only


Implementation

Implementation

  • Timeline developed:

    • Withholding tax in January 2005

    • Sales & Retailers Use tax in July 2005

    • Consumers Use tax in October 2005

    • Withholding VSPs in January 2006

    • LPG in March 2006

    • Motor Fuel in July 2006


Efile service unit

eFile Service Unit

  • A new unit was needed.

    • Decided to place it in Taxpayer Services

      • Education & assistance would be the emphasis

      • Unit could evolve into other areas in the future

    • Program Manager hired in August 2004

    • Rest of the unit hired in November 2004

    • Training occurred until January 2005


Efile service unit1

eFile Service Unit

  • Duties of this unit would be:

    • Answer phone calls

    • Respond to emails

    • Help walk-in customers

    • Help with testing and system development

    • Input on letters, emails, Web site, etc.


Efile service unit2

eFile Service Unit

  • All “new” employees eliminated the risk of reducing current level of customer service.

    • Originally had 1 manager, 4 full time plus 6 temporary employees.

    • Also added 4 full time backups and 13 emergency backups when needed

    • Wanted adequate phone coverage 1st year


Efile service unit3

eFile Service Unit

  • The temporary employees were originally hired to work the first year while call volume would be high.

    • Two of them worked for 18 months

  • This would leave a permanent staff capable of handling the level of service needed in the future.


Efile service unit4

eFile Service Unit

  • Currently eSU consists of:

    • 1 Program Manager

    • 1 Taxpayer Service Specialist

    • 6 Administrative Assistants

    • 4 emergency backups

  • We hope to eliminate the backups soon and rely on a permanent staff of 8 or 9.


Marketing education

Marketing & Education

  • We needed to market & promote.

    • It would need to be a department wide effort

    • Who do we target?

    • How do we get the message to them?

    • How do we educate the businesses?

    • What can we do to make this transition as simple as possible?


Marketing education1

Marketing & Education

  • eFile Governance Team was formed.

    • The team would oversee the program

    • Consisted of the Director and managers from most department divisions

    • Marketing and education plans were developed


Marketing education2

Marketing & Education

  • Mailings:

    • First attempt to communicate with businesses

    • Letters sent out 2 months before each tax type went live in eFile & Pay

      • Withholding letters sent in November 2004

      • Sales/Use letters sent in May 2005


Marketing education3

Marketing & Education

  • Press Conferences:

    • Given by the Director of Revenue to alert media the month before each tax went live

    • TV stations & newspapers picked up the story

      • Withholding tax in December 2004

      • Sales/Use tax in June 2005


Marketing education4

Marketing & Education

  • BEN Letters:

    • Business E-file Number

    • Number used to access eFile & Pay

    • Each business has 1 BEN for all tax types

    • Letter also provided information on accessing the system, use of the BEN and how to complete their returns electronically

    • Actual Web site screen shots were included


Marketing education5

Marketing & Education

  • Telephone Scripts:

    • Developed for businesses that elected to transmit by telephone

    • Scripts detailed each step of the process

    • Feedback from the scripts has been positive

    • Provide 18 different phone scripts

      • 8 for withholding tax

      • 10 for sales & use taxes


Marketing education6

Marketing & Education

  • Presentations:

    • Offered statewide over a two week period

    • Postcards with dates & times mailed to each withholding agent and sales tax permit holder

    • Done when majority of businesses would be using the system for the first time

    • 5 Field Taxpayer Service Specialists presented

    • 70 presentations with 4,400 in attendance


Marketing education7

Marketing & Education

  • eLists:

    • Department has 7 different eLists

    • Use as a communication tool

    • eLists were used 15 times to send out information regarding eFile & Pay

    • Sent to taxpayers, practitioners & government entities


Marketing education8

Marketing & Education

  • Reminder Letters:

    • Mailed to selective businesses

    • Sent as the quarterly due date drew near

    • Targeted to businesses that had not yet accessed the eFile & Pay system


Marketing education9

Marketing & Education

  • Web site:

    • Enhanced to offer as much info as possible

    • Copies of all correspondence (BEN, reminder)

    • All eFile & Pay presentations (pdf format)

    • PowerPoints showing the screen shots

    • FAQ’s

    • Other miscellaneous items

      • Pay options, browser info, due dates, holidays…


Marketing education10

Marketing & Education

  • Summary:

    • 70 presentations to 4,400 participants

    • 2 postcard mailings

    • 2 press conferences & articles to the media

    • 15 eLists sent

    • 21 letters generated

    • 12 online PowerPoint presentations

    • Expanded Web site with 30 files of eFile & Pay info


Results

Results

  • Methods of using eFile & Pay:

    • 90% of businesses use Web application

    • Remaining 10% use the telephone

    • We anticipate continued Web growth

    • Telephone option will always be necessary

      • Application down

      • Business PC down

      • Business has no Web access


Results1

Results

  • Electronic Payments:

    • Over 80% of total money received is sent electronically

    • Only about 50% of the transactions are electronic

    • These percents will increase as businesses become more comfortable using the eFile & Pay system


Results2

Results

  • Three major concerns were answered:

    • Receipts remain steady & timely

      • Hasn’t been an issue

    • Delinquency rates

      • They are actually lower

    • Quality of information is consistent

      • Especially important regarding the local option sales taxes that are reported


Results3

Results

  • Benefits to the department:

    • Thousands of returns are no longer processed manually

    • Electronic review replaced manual review

    • Money is transferred more quickly into the state’s general fund

    • Record storage is reduced and retrieval is quicker & simpler


Goal of efile pay

Goal of eFile & Pay

70% Participation rate after one year


Impact on business tax filings

Impact on Business Tax Filings

  • Far better than expected.

    • Filing for businesses has been simplified

    • eSU exists to address their questions

    • Volume of E-returns exceeded our goal


Impact on business tax filings1

Impact on Business Tax Filings

  • For the quarter ending 03/31/06:

    • 98% of withholding tax returns filed through eFile & Pay

    • 95% of sales and use tax returns filed through eFile & Pay


Impact on withholding tax

Impact on Withholding Tax

  • Percent of electronic returns by quarter:

    • March 2005: 87.7%

    • June 2005: 89.6%

    • September 2005: 90.8%

    • December 2005: 97.2%

    • March 2006: 98.3%


Impact on sales use tax

Impact on Sales/Use Tax

  • Percent of electronic returns by quarter:

    • September 2005: 90.6%

    • December 2005: 92.3%

    • March 2006: 95.3%


Conclusion

Conclusion

  • We believe education and marketing helped make eFile & Pay a success.

  • Permanent staff, temporary employees & department wide backups gave us the customer support we needed.

    • With all available people we could have up to 41 on the phones


Phone statistics

Phone Statistics

  • Fiscal Year 2006 ACD Phone Call Volume

    • Total calls: 117,063

    • Highest volume week: 7,169 (10/24 to 10/28/2005)

    • Highest volume day: 1,737 (10/31/05)

    • Average week: 2,251

    • Average day: 465


Phone statistics1

Phone Statistics

  • Ratio of Transactions to Phone Calls

  • July 2005 through March 2006

    • 5.4 Quarterly Returns per phone call

    • 9.2 Returns/Payments per phone call


Conclusion1

Conclusion

  • Through the use of technology:

    • Improved customer service

    • Reduced the taxpayer’s burden

    • Promoted voluntary compliance

    • Created efficiencies within the department.


Conclusion2

Conclusion

  • Still things to do…

    • Increase % of electronic payments

      • Businesses eFile return but remit paper check

      • Need to raise their comfort level

    • Continue to make enhancements

      • Based on customer feedback

      • Several enhancements made in April 2006

    • Work on nonfilers

      • Reminder emails & letters after due date


Contact information

CONTACT INFORMATION

  • Paul Benson, Taxpayer Services Manager

    • Desk: 515.281.8966

    • Fax: 515.242.6487

    • Email: [email protected]

  • Web site: www.state.ia.us/tax


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