Va., AMS system less taxing
- By Dibya Sarkar
- Oct 02, 2001
A partnership between the Virginia Department of Taxation and American Management
Systems Inc. has spawned not only a new tax accounting and revenue computer
system, but also a more efficient, cost-effective and consumer-friendly
business environment, department officials say.
Despite a recommendation in the early 1990s to replace Virginia's outdated
tax accounting and revenue computer system, the state couldn't find the
money to install a new system. The state tax department tried to get funding
and sought other options when, in 1998, it embarked on a then-new funding
concept that meant partnering with a private-sector company.
With the blessing of the General Assembly, the department (www.tax.state.va.us) and Fairfax, Va.-based AMS entered into a "benefits
Under the plan, AMS financed the new hardware and software for the department.
In return, AMS would recoup funds through the department's revenue gains
-- above and beyond what it normally collectedfrom the implementation.
No additional state funds would be used. State officials said they have
10 years to repay AMS.
The approachwhich has included re-engineering business practices
-- has worked so well that the department has collected $54 million since
September 1998, said tax department officials. The total price of the overhaul
is estimated at $135.5 million. The National Association of State Chief
Information Officers recently recognized the innovative public/private partnership
with one of its an annual information technology awards.
The partnership processes about 3.2 million returns annually. Some improvements
* Internet filing by businesses. As of August 2001, more than 4,400
businesses signed up to file sales, use and withholding taxes via the Internet.
More than 12,300 returns were filed, with $71 million in payments. Businesses
can view their payment history during the previous 12 months, can pay electronically
and can also be sent e-mail reminders to pay taxes five days before the
* Online business registration. More than 3,100 businesses have used
* A better customer-service answer center, developed by Siebel Systems
Inc., which links all taxpayer correspondence to returns. Previously, it
took two weeks to request a paper return, analyze it and return with an
answer. Electronic scripting is also used, in which call-center employees
ask questions and based on the caller's responses, can be directed to the
* A redesign of Form 760, the individual state income tax form, for
the first time since 1972. This is expected to improve efficiency, ease
burden of filing and eliminate paper.
* Increased online filing. More than 20,000 residents have filed their
2000 individual income taxes over the Internet this year, while 160,000
taxpayers used the telefile version, which is in its second year.
* Faster audits. With new computer hardware and software, the department
is completing audits 12.5 percent faster on average.