From business taxes to lodging taxes, streamlining tax filing has the potential to get local governments revenue they may not otherwise have received. For the short-term rental industry alone, cities and counties across the country are potentially missing out on significant sums of uncollected taxes by not having a streamlined tracking and collection system in place.
Simplicity is the main objective here: The easier it is for tax filers to find the information they need–and the fewer steps they need to take to file–the timelier the delivery of taxes. A simplified system also eases the labor burden for staff, reducing the time that goes into processing filings compared to traditional paper methods while also giving leadership better real-time data and reports on remittance. It’s a win-win for both local governments and the citizens they serve.
Here are five ways to make tax filing easier for citizens.
1. Provide clear and concise instructions
Eliminating confusion goes a long way to ensuring taxpayers are submitting their taxes correctly the first time around. The clearer the instructions, the less likely it is that agencies will encounter issues like missing data and incorrect information, both of which slow down the filing process and increase the labor burden for staff.
2. Make it easy to find forms and resources
Where are your forms and other tax filing resources? How easy is it for a citizen to locate them? Are they all in the same place? The tax process can be complex–particularly in nascent, rapidly-growing industries like STRs where ordinances and requirements can change from year to year. Over 50% of people report they do not understand the tax code so keeping your forms and resources in one easy-to-locate place can help with the confusion and subsequent delays from issues like calculation mistakes.
3. Offer electronic filing options
We are in an increasingly paperless world and most people seek out electronic methods to complete tasks like tax filing before pursuing other, often more cumbersome, avenues. Data shows that 95% of users opt for paperless when given the option.
Providing electronic options eases the burden of tax work for filers and increases the likelihood of compliance. Given that a manual process is often error-prone, platforms for e-filing offer features to help prevent such issues, including:
- Required fields that ensure data isn’t missing
- Simplified forms and auto-calculations that reduce the number of math errors
- Flagging any penalties, which, when missed, can reduce tax revenue
- Automated invoices and direct deposits to government accounts
Learn how GovOS helps local governments streamline tax filing
4. Simplify the process with a tax portal
Convoluting tax filing and collection through a series of separate systems and processes makes the task more complex for users and staff alike, and can be a major contributor to drops in overall remittance. In addition to simplifying tax filing, an easy-to-use tax portal may feature numerous other benefits, including increased security and bulk filing capabilities.
5. Partner with the right platform
Whether you’re making a full transition from paper to digital or simply migrating siloed digital processes into one unified platform, streamlining tax filing can be cumbersome and lengthy for local governments. But it doesn’t have to be. Choosing the right partner who can guide you through the steps and the right platform for the job will make the setup as smooth as possible. When shopping for a vendor and platform, ask questions like:
- How involved is the vendor in the transition? Consider the entire workflow in this evaluation–from the initial onboarding process to training to ongoing follow-up after the migration is complete.
- How intuitive is the system for both staff and tax filers? How lengthy is the training process likely to be for your department?
- What level of security does the vendor’s platform offer?
- How available is the vendor when you and/or tax filers need assistance?
- What features are most important to your department?
Easier tax filing helps local governments and communities
Making tax filing easier for citizens has numerous benefits for local governments, but the process can be complex and labor-intensive. Learn how the GovOS team can guide you through every step of the process and how the platform streamlines all aspects and types of tax filing.