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State tax department mobile application wins national honor

tax-newThe Virginia Department of Taxation has won a national award for a new web application that streamlines the way it works with business owners to provide customer service and settle outstanding debts. Developed in-house, the new mobile collectors application saves time and paper, and gets money into the bank faster.

“Innovative government that uses technology to serve taxpayers better is an important part of my administration’s effort to build a new Virginia economy,” said Governor McAuliffe. “The Virginia Department of Taxation’s mobile collectors application is a great example of what government agencies can achieve when they put customers first. I am proud of their work and the recognition it is receiving.”

Virginia won the Award for Taxpayer Service and Education from the Federation of Tax Administrators. The judges praised the agency for its initiative and creativity, saying: “It’s good customer service. And this wasn’t driven by legislation. They came up with it on their own.”

Until recently, field collectors spent hours each day preparing paperwork for visits to businesses and then completed more paperwork following the visits. They had to print account information, create and print payment vouchers for checks received, fill out transmittal records, and mail everything to the agency’s processing department. It typically took 10 to 14 days to process a payment, deposit it, and post the money to a taxpayer’s account.

Forty-five field employees now carry tablets loaded with the new application that simplifies formerly tedious, manual tasks. They have access to real-time account information; they can process electronic funds transfers or credit card payments on site; and they can quickly update taxpayer accounts. Payments are now posted to accounts the following day. The tablets are equipped with GPS technology, which helps field reps locate businesses faster, and they also eliminated the need for business cell phones.

The application was built by the department’s technology staff based on business needs of the collections staff. Both taxpayers and collectors have given the new technology high marks.

Virginia was a co-winner of the award with the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance.

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