MRS - Using Technology to Improve Tax Processing
By Karin Peterson, MRS
Maine Revenue Service (MRS) has made tremendous strides in recent years to improve tax return and payment processing. Not that many years ago, it took up to 12 weeks to process returns, send refunds and deposit money into the bank, nearly all of which was done by paper. We've come a long way since then, with the installation of Maine Automated Tax System (MATS), Maine Imaging Processing System (MIPS), Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT), automated workflow, real time updates, electronic filing and payment mandates, the MRS website, and now Maine Revenue Integrated Tax System (MERITS)! With these improvements in place, here are some of our accomplishments:
- 59% (363,881) of individual income tax returns filed, to date, (619,997) were filed electronically. This is an increase of 8% over last year.
- 60.45% (76,044) of 2009 sales tax returns filed (125,798) were filed electronically – a 50% increase! Beginning with February 2009, the number of sales tax returns filed electronically began to exceed the number of paper returns filed. Beginning April 1 st monthly sales tax filers were required to file their returns electronically, and during the month of May 87.44% of the sales tax returns received were filed electronically.
- 54% (54,027) of 2009 withholding returns filed (99,584) were filed electronically – an 11% increase.
- The number of tax payments made via Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) has increased 6.5% over last year. In fact, 61% of revenue received from all tax types during this period was received via EFT. 61% (429,171) of all payments processed through April (1,068,315) were paid via EFT.
- 1040 refunds processed this year were, on average, issued within 9 days of receipt of the return. This is incredibly fast compared to not so many years ago when it often took 6 to 12 weeks to issue a refund.
- 49.62% (210,121) of all refunds processed (423,462) were processed via Direct Deposit (DDR).
- Notices and assessments are mailed daily and most tax payments are deposited within 24 hours of receipt.
- MRS generally answers more than 99% of all telephone calls made to the agency.
- Timely filed paper 1040 returns were processed by April 30 (2 days earlier than last year and a new record).
To say the least, MRS has experienced outstanding gains in recent years. The benefit of real teamwork is evident. We plan to continue this positive trend by making more systems improvements, including replacing MIPS with the Tax & Revenue Image Processing System (TRIPS) over the next year and a half.