July 16, 1999 - Columbus, Ohio -
Saving Money While Improving Services
By Thomas M. Zaino, Tax Commissioner
When Governor Taft took office in January, he required each
Department to have a spending control plan and ordered a
limited hiring freeze. As a result of its spending control,
the Ohio Department of Taxation will return $1.5 million to
the General Revenue Fund (GRF). Even with its controlled
spending, the Department has achieved many goals this past
year and has set bold goals for the next fiscal year.
The spending control plan, devised by the Department’s top
management staff, required a review of all spending to
determine essential expenditures and to prioritize them.
During fiscal year 1999, the Department saved nearly $1
million in personnel costs, $380,000 in maintenance costs,
and more than $150,000 in equipment costs.
While saving money, the Department has accomplished many
objectives. This year, Electronic Filing (E-File) was offered
for the first time. This allowed taxpayers to use their
personal computers and tax preparation software to file their
personal income tax returns electronically from home. Or they
could have their taxes prepared by tax practitioners who were
authorized electronic filing providers. Also, the
requirements for the IT-1040EZ, the simplified income tax
return, were expanded to accommodate more filers. TeleFile,
the method of filing personal income tax returns over the
phone, continued to be a popular program. These new filing
methods benefit taxpayers because refunds are issued more
quickly, the response to inquiries is accelerated, and
administrative costs to the Department are reduced. The
Department also created Fax on Demand, a new program which
allows taxpayers to call our toll-free number to have tax
forms faxed or mailed directly to them.
During the past year, many of the major state taxes,
including sales, withholding, and corporate franchise, have
been incorporated into the Integrated Tax System (ITAS). This
is a computer-based system that has dramatically changed the
way the Department conducts its business. ITAS integrates all
data—financial and non-financial—for a single taxpayer under
one central account. Taxpayers will no longer have to contact
each tax division for information on their separate tax
accounts. This new method affords taxpayers the convenience
of one-stop shopping.
The Department has many goals for next year’s filing season.
The first of these is to improve the phone system. More lines
will be added to make tax agents more accessible to taxpayers
requesting information. The Department would like to ensure
that every caller has the opportunity to speak with an agent.
Second, the requirements for TeleFile will be expanded to
accommodate more Ohio taxpayers. Finally, starting with the
1999 returns, social security numbers that previously
appeared on the outside of income tax booklets will be
replaced with an alternative number to ensure taxpayer
Processes have been revamped and will continue to be improved
at the Ohio Department of Taxation. The new spending control
plan encouraged Department officials to step back and
re-evaluate the Department’s mission. Goals were reached and
new ones have been put into place. The Ohio Department of
Taxation continues to find better, more advanced, and
efficient ways to serve the citizens of Ohio.
Thomas M. Zaino became the Ohio Tax Commissioner
in July 1999. Previously, he was a partner with the
accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers. Mr. Zaino holds a
B.B.A. in accounting from the University of Cincinnati and a
law degree from The Ohio State University.
For more information contact:
Gary Gudmundson, Communications Director
Ohio Department of Taxation