DRA reviews highlights of 2019 modernization
Initiatives included new technology, efficiencies
In its recently released fiscal year 2019 report, the New Hampshire Department of Revenue Administration points toward achieving major modernization and customer service milestones, including replacing decades-old technology with a new Revenue Information Management System, launching the first rollout of its online taxpayer portal, increasing efficiencies within the Taxpayer Services Division, and engaging community resources, such as associations and chambers of commerce, for direct-to-taxpayer information sharing.
“Upgrading technology was a huge focus for us in 2019, and with that came equipping our staff internally with the tools to effectively manage the new technology for the maximum benefit of our taxpayers,” said NHDRA Commissioner Lindsey Stepp.
Representing the next evolution for tax collection in New Hampshire, the DRA launched its Revenue Information Management System, or RIMS, which houses and consolidates taxpayer data for an all-inclusive view.
Following a year of development in partnership with Fast Enterprises, the agency launched the taxpayer-facing end of RIMS in October — an online user portal called Granite Tax Connect, or GTC. The first phase of tax types it handles includes the rooms and meals tax, Medicaid enhancement tax and nursing facility quality assessment, which impact approximately 9,000 taxpayers.
Using GTC, taxpayers and practitioners can file taxes electronically, schedule automated online payments, view correspondence from NHDRA, check on the status of returns, payments and web requests, among other services.
In addition, as new filing technology is implemented, DRA is retiring old methods, including e-File and telefile. Beginning Jan. 1, GTC is the only method of electronic filing available to the three tax types included in the first rollout. Over the past several months, DRA said it has been focused on assisting taxpayers with creating GTC accounts.
Due to DRA’s efforts, nearly 2,200 users were registered on GTC as of late December. The next phase of the RIMS and GTC rollout is underway and the full implementation is anticipated to be complete by the end of 2021.
More information on RIMS and GTC is available at revenue.nh.gov/gtc.
Additional customer support
Also during 2019, DRA sought legislation during the legislative session to modernize both the tobacco tax and the rooms and meals tax. Both pieces of legislation won legislative approval and took effect on Jan. 1.
“Both taxes had been in place for a number of years with only a few minor updates made to the regulatory framework, despite many changes to the world in which these taxes are supposed to operate,” Stepp said.
Preparing for the need to provide additional customer support during modernization, DRA established a Division of Taxpayer Services in 2018 aimed at improving providing efficient data processing and customer service. And to reduce the percentage of documents processed manually, the division continued to encourage taxpayers to submit files electronically. Due in large part to the Division of Taxpayer Services’ outreach, only 3% of documents processed were done so manually in 2019.
The agency said the Taxpayer Services team also played a critical role in leading NHDRA through its all-hands-on-deck “rush” period during tax season. Each year, approximately 90% of taxpayers file their tax returns during the months of March and April. During these two months of 2019, NHDRA processed 113,086 tax returns and other documents — a 7% year-over-year increase, according to the agency.
In preparing taxpayers for the launch of GTC, the DRA also engaged chambers of commerce and associations connected to each of the three tax types included in the first rollout. The agency collaborated with the New Hampshire Hospital Association, New Hampshire Society of Certified Public Accountants, New Hampshire Lodging & Restaurant Association and more than a dozen chambers of commerce throughout the state to share information with thousands of taxpayers.
“We are constantly working to ensure we are meeting the needs of the people and businesses of New Hampshire, and we are excited for what is ahead in 2020,” said Stepp.