August 22, 2012 By Noelle Knell
If you are a Montana taxpayer, settling your income tax burden just got easier. According to state officials, the Department of Revenue is the first agency in Montana to embrace mobile-optimized payment services.
Several years ago, the state added an online option for paying income taxes. But the widespread consumer adoption of smartphones and tablets led the Department of Revenue to consider adding functionality catering specifically to mobile users.
Montana officials found that even without mobile optimization, a considerable percentage of site visitors were viewing state websites and conducting business with the state via mobile devices.
Working with e-government partner Montana Interactive, a division of NIC, officials developed an application to make these online interactions easier for its customers.
“What we're seeing in Montana is a lot of the e-government services that aren’t native mobile applications or mobile-optimized are still being used on a handheld device of some sort,” said Sandi Miller, general manager of Montana Interactive.
“It only made sense to give another tool to that generation that’s carrying a mobile device so they can file and pay on time,” said Margaret Kauska, CIO for the Montana Department of Revenue, in an interview with Government Technology.
According to Department of Revenue IT staff, it took about a month and a half to get the mobile optimized payment option up and running. Using responsive design, the application is coded to detect which device is being used to access it. Content is then sized and presented according to the size of the viewing area on the mobile device in use, making the application much simpler to navigate.
The new service debuted in May in soft launch mode, reporting its first user within 24 hours of service availability. Nearly 1,100 online tax payments were received between May and July, representing $1.3 million. The state reports that 9 percent of the total transactions that came in during that time frame were completed using a mobile device.
Revenue staff is currently updating all tax filing information, including filing documents, instructions and the website for the upcoming 2012 tax filing season. Among the updates will be information on new tax payment options. They also plan to use Twitter and Facebook to broaden their communication efforts. Officials expect more Montanans will take advantage of the mobile-optimized payment option after the first of the year.
“We definitely want to market this so it’s ready and we get a higher adoption rate starting in January,” Kauska added.
Visit the Montana Department of Revenue Income Tax Express.
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