News Releases

News Release

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 privacy.

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
(614) 644-6903