A New Way to Tax

Indiana offers businesses a new way to pay taxes.

by / April 11, 2005
Although filing taxes isn't new, Indiana is bringing something new to the way businesses pay their dues. Indiana businesses can now pay sales and withholding taxes online through INtax.

The new, self-service functionality is meant to generate voluntary collections and increase state revenue.

INtax first became available to businesses in January of this year but has already collected more than $25 million, according to Larry McKee, deputy commissioner of the Indiana Department of Revenue.

"Anytime you can provide taxpayers with options to file and pay their tax obligation," he said. "It ends with positive results for the taxpayer and the revenue agency."

Using the System
Businesses opting to use INtax receive an online account to enhance security, and users can be added to or deleted from it. Each user can be granted specified privileges by the registered business administrator, who has full access to the business account and all subsequent accounts under the business.

Through limited assigned accessibility, INtax offers a secure method for filing and paying taxes that gives businesses more control over who can access the information. Allowable privileges include filing returns, making payments, adjusting electronic funds transfer (EFT) registration information or granting unrestricted access.

"INtax allows a taxpayer to make a payment instantly or schedule it for a later time," McKee said, noting that paying via EFT allows businesses to anticipate deadlines and alleviate the last-minute rush.

Secure Communications
Each business account registered in INtax includes a secure, private mailbox dedicated to quick and easy communications between each business and the DOR. Through each mailbox, the DOR can send quick updates and vital information to businesses, eliminating paper communications and mailing delay.

Businesses are finding e-mail far more convenient than coming in or calling by phone, said Cathy Henninger, public affairs and taxpayer advocate for the DOR, noting that businesses are experiencing quicker responses to their inquiries as a result.

Better Benefits
INtax -- developed in partnership with Accenture, which provides management consulting, technology services and outsourcing to businesses and government entities -- is built on Microsoft's .NET platform and provides a centralized system for managing and maintaining taxpayer information.

Previously DOR staff worked with more than 30 different legacy applications, but INtax allowed Indiana to replace those applications with the convenience of a single system.

"This brought all relevant taxpayer information into the hands of each front-line employee," said Nathan Beadle of the Accenture Tax and Revenue Practice.

INtax also eliminated the need to generate preprinted payment coupons for businesses using the system. Prior to INtax, the coupons were sent out to businesses on a regular basis to remit with payment, Henninger said, and getting rid of them reduces printing, paper and postage costs.

Participating businesses also benefit from getting rid of paper coupons.

"The elimination of paper coupons takes the worry of, 'Did the department receive my payment?' out of the equation," she explained. Now, INtax generates a confirmation number verifying that returns and payments have been received on time.

For business owners and executives, INtax takes the guesswork out of wondering whether taxes are being filed on time, Henninger said, because they can now follow the status of their accounts by simply logging on to the system. As a result, those ultimately responsible for filing their taxes can be instantly reassured their employees are doing their job.

Profitable Partnership
Accenture helped Indiana create INtax as a customized solution to meet the state's needs. The company also worked with Arizona to create that state's Business Reengineering/Integrated Tax System, which also provides online accessibility to tax information for taxpayers, and the company just inked a similar deal with Nevada's Department of Taxation to create a unified tax system.

When working with states to improve revenue collection, Accenture uses a predetermined set of objectives to maximize tax revenue, compliance rates and responsiveness to taxpayers, while minimizing taxpayer burden.

These objectives helped establish the guidelines to build INtax, but the system will continue to grow and evolve with Indiana's intention to increase the services it offers to businesses. In the near future, Indiana plans to expand the tax types available for payment through INtax.

"The Indiana Department of Revenue administers over 40 different taxes and fees," said McKee, explaining that gradually adding more tax types into the system will make the online service more attractive in its capability to handle all Indiana business tax needs.

"Small businesses want to deal with their government electronically," said Accenture's Beadle. "At the same time that INtax saves businesses time and money, it reduces errors and cost for government."
Sherry Watkins Contributing Writer