City upgrading income tax collection system

By Scott Halasz - [email protected]

XENIA — Xenia is changing its income tax collection process.

The city joined the more than 300 other Ohio municipalities in contracting with the Regional Income Tax Agency (RITA) to administer and enforce its income tax laws. Joining the Brecksville-based agency will allow Xenia to save an estimated $60,000 annually and another $130,000 by avoiding an upgrade to its antiquated software, which made its debut in 2005 and is no longer fully supported. Xenia’s cost to be a part of RITA is based on how much tax is collected.

The software issue and the retirement of a long-time tax employee in January made the time right for Xenia to act.

“City staff is routinely evaluating processes, policies, and procedures to ensure effective and efficient service delivery and the good stewardship of public funds,” Finance Director Ryan Duke said. “As staff began to consider possible tax software replacements, it found that the options were scarce.”

RITA will bring its own software and the city will not lose its local customer service presence as RITA officials have agreed to lease space in the City Administration Building.

“City taxpayers could still visit the City Administration Building and be assisted by tax professionals including the free preparation of their tax returns,” Duke said. “Customers could still pay their tax bill in person or drop it in the box outside of the City Administration Building for processing just like they do today.”

It will also give current Xenia employees preference when filling its staff, according to Duke.

“We have confidence in the capacity of our employees and believe that ultimately each employee in the AR division will be either retained by the City our hired by RITA,” he said. “There are no guarantees, but that is the understanding between the parties. We are doing everything we can to ensure a smooth transition for both our community stakeholders as well as our employees.”

One advantage, Duke said, about RITA is how it can function as a collection agency.

“The city, because of its size, cannot get information about an individual’s federal filing,” Duke said. “RITA, because of its size, can get access to this information. This means that they know how much earned income the individual had during the year and whether or not the tax is worth pursuing.”

RITA will also bring enhanced electronic filing options.

“RITA has relationships with various tax preparation software companies, which means that individuals and businesses could file their returns electronically, much like they do their state and federal returns,” Duke said. “Their online platforms are an upgrade to current city service offerings across the board. Another advantage that RITA has is a focus squarely on municipal income tax, whereby they employ CPAs and attorneys whose expertise and experience are specific to municipal income tax. Their network of tax professionals allows them to address some of the more complex and difficult issues more effectively.”

Fairborn has been part of RITA since 2007 and has no issues according to Danielle Wolfe, Fairborn revenue manager.

“The member services team at RITA is exceptional at managing the needs of the Income Tax Division providing professional support, timely answers to questions or concerns, and excellent customer service,” she said. “We have utilized the member services team for projecting revenue, providing detailed reports, and even drafting a new ordinance after House Bill 5 in 2015/2016. RITA is excellent at staying abreast of legislation changes, advancing in technological filing avenues, and provides updated customer information to us without a timing delay. All of these benefits allow us to provide detailed information and excellent customer service to the taxpayers of Fairborn.”

Duke said RITA will likely take over in September.

By Scott Halasz

[email protected]

Conctact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.

Conctact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.