Maine Revenue Services Wins 2011 Outstanding Technology Award for MERITS
The Federation of Tax Administrators (FTA) recently announced that the 2011 Award for Outstanding Technology Application in Tax Administration has been awarded to three recipients: Maine, for its (Maine Revenue Integrated Tax System (MERITS), Maryland for its Automated Revenue Agent Report program, and to Wisconsin (ITS and Data Warehouse Synergies). There were many good programs this year, and we congratulate all of the states that submitted.
Maine won in the category “complete tax administration system refresh” – the work involved implementing neither a custom or commercial off the shelf system, but rather updating the existing (and functional) system by re-engineering and translating computer code, at a greater than 50% development and operating cost savings. Judges applauded the agency’s “seamless transition from the old technology” and its “originality”. Benefits include easier maintenance of data, shorter learning curves, and refund processing 44% faster than previously. This 4-year technical advancement mitigated risk, eased transition for the user community, and liberated the agency from outdated technology to better serve the public.
In a category described as “integrated tax system/data warehouse compliance synergy”, Wisconsin automated a number of processes that were formerly heavily manual via interactions between ITS and the data warehouse, generating $75 million with fewer positions. The programs include automating collection actions, federal abstract and CP2000 adjustments, review of fraud profiles in tax processing, and new central audit adjustment projects. The idea was to initiate 2-way pipelines of information between the agency’s systems to enable real-time database views and on-demand web services, to (as one example) facilitate identification of non-filers and under-reporters more effectively. Judges said “I like the way they thought outside of the box” and “improvements in one system feed the other with actionable information that is executed automatically and echo throughout, for example enabling better taxpayer service via fewer unneeded contacts”.
In a “standalone compliance application” category, Maryland won for its automated RAR audit program, which showed rapid results. Using common scenarios found in the review of the reports, business rules were developed to drive automated system actions. Judges cited Maryland’s “outstanding metrics”: in the first five months after implementation, the agency doubled collections, and subsequently quintupled collections year-over-year. Eighty percent of assessment notices are now distributed automatically, and the reduction in review backlog, improved audit efficiencies and additional general fund revenues have been significant.
The reviewers were impressed by the breadth and quality of the state agency material received, and obviously were very impressed with your program.
The FTA plans to take every opportunity to spotlight your fine work, including adding your program to our new Compendium of Exemplary Practices. The FTA also plan to highlight each of the award submissions in TaxExPRESS in coming months.
It is clear by this recognition that Maine is in good company with other award-winning states.