This week’s Q&A is with Janetta Taylor with the Department of Revenue. I was interested in finding out how the department is dealing with nearly 70 changes to the tax code worth $800 million that go into effect on a handful of different dates — including tomorrow, when cigarettes will cost $1 more per pack.
Taylor told me about some big changes to the tax code that could help local businesses, what it would take to implement an income tax, and much more.
Q: How many changes did the Legislature make, and what does the DOR have to do to implement those changes?
Taylor: With this session we have 68 changes that came through, which is quite a few. It will be a challenge for the department to make sure that we contact all the businesses that are affected. That really is our focus: educate, educate, educate.
We have a wide variety of mechanisms to do that. In Washington, most businesses and household are connected to the Web. The first thing we did is post the information on our Web page. There’s a link to all the information with the write-ups. Of course, also some of Mike’s (Mike Gowrylow, communications director at DOR) media releases. And we also try to target mailings to the specific businesses that are impacted. We have about 450,000 registered businesses. Not all of these changes affect all businesses. We look at businesses by their activity and we tailor specific mailings to them and try to get them all the information they need.
We also have special things going on with electronic filing. A large number of our tax payers actually file electronically so we can send them e-mails or send them alerts in the system.
Q: The $1 per pack addition to the cigarette tax goes into effect tomorrow (May 1). What did you have to do to implement something like that?
Taylor: The ones that start tomorrow were quite challenging because we did have a short time frame. We actually started planning before the bill was signed. (more…)