Fla. aims to raise service, revenue

Florida is customizing customer relationship management software to boost tax collection and improve service

To boost tax collection and improve customer service via the Web, Florida's revenue department is customizing SAP America Inc. customer relationship management (CRM) software it hopes to have up and running in six months.

"We recently purchased that from SAP basically to enhance our customer interaction center," said Jim Evers, the state Department of Revenue's director of general tax administration. He said it will enable taxpayers to "see the status of their account, make account corrections, see exactly what they owe the Department of Revenue across taxes, maintain their account, file electronically with us through a single Web site, download their profile for a tax return, fill it in and basically send it to the Department of Revenue."

Currently, the department (www.eog.state.fl.us/dor) provides customer service hours from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., but ever since the state began offering e-filing over the Web last year, Evers said most taxpayers use the system after hours.

"So basically we're looking to provide the same service where you make an inquiry to your account, transact business with us 24/7 without access to a live operator," he said.

The department, which has been offering more and more electronic programs over the past few years, is trying to integrate them into a single portal. It administers 36 taxes, tracks about 1.2 million taxpayers and processes about 12 million tax returns annually, collecting about $26 billion.

"More importantly for us, we're using the CRM feature for...our whole case tracking system," Evers said. That system would allow the department to see a variety of audit and discovery leads for one company through one profile, including all attachments and ancillary documents. Department auditors maintain independent audit files.

"More importantly for us, we want to be able to run discovery models and business intelligence to determine who is the likely candidate to audit and who is potentially not paying taxes in the discovery process," he said. "That's where states have made millions of dollars — through business intelligence data warehousing projects [and their] ability to track and analyze those taxes."

Studies have shown that the state, which collects up to a half billion dollars in enforced compliance, could improve that to a tune of $100 million to $200 million more a year, Evers said.

A year ago, SAP and Deloitte Consulting implemented a financial management system for the department. Evers said the department is using a variety of consultants to integrate this software. While he couldn't say the CRM software purchase price, he said the department is spending about $4 million this year on several different projects.

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