Tax & Accounting Blog

Ask A Property Tax Expert

Blog, ONESOURCE Property Tax July 15, 2014

ask a property tax expert

During a recent Property Tax webinar  the following questions were submitted by attendees. I have submitted responses below.

We have noticed some States are starting to require electronic filing for personal property tax returns. Do you have a list of states that require this?

We also see that trend, and each year as the ONESOURCE Property Tax Content Team prepares a state for filing in our software we research various aspects of the filing requirements when it is discovered.  Examples of the research are batch or location by location filing along with obtaining schema files when data is available to be uploaded or will taxpayers use a software interface to process the return.  Based on the information from the jurisdiction we determine how to incorporate the ability to file online with the features of our software. At this time we do not have a single list because we specifically address the jurisdiction in the information for Property Tax Return for each state.

What states do you anticipate future changes in e-filing?

Yes, each year we anticipate more jurisdictions will implement online filing options. In addition to the states I covered in the webinar, NV, AL, and TN, we also have Pierce County in Washington State and anticipate some changes to the process for filingthe M-Forms in Wisconsin. It is common for the larger counties to initiate online filing options. For example in North Carolina Mecklenburg and Durham County have online filing options and in Florida you find several counties like Miami-Dade, Lee, Osceola plus several more.  However the bigger trend we follow are the counties and states that are looking to require online filing. These changes have a greater impact to your process depending on if the system is one where you are able to upload a file or if you are using a software interface.

Do you have any information regarding Hamilton County TN electronic filing?

I reached out to Hamilton County and they do not have an option to file online today, and expressed that if they change ton online filing it will be a slow process. This contradicts some of the information I have learned and shared on the webinar. My opinion is that the legislation change is just too new and that many do not have information on how the change will impact their county.  The Tennessee Association of Assessing officers are gathering for their annual conference form July 31 – August 1.  This is the time they will discuss the laws that have passed and what they want to do.

Do you anticipate ONESOURCE developing the functionality to submit the electronic filings via the ONESOURCE software?

The common online filing systems have been the following two options.  The first is where you can import data in the form of an Excel or Text file. The other is where you use a software interface to step through the process of filing and add the content manually. Another question we address is whether taxpayers are able to file multiple locations or if it is location by location. There is one other example where you are able to upload a file and also able to single or batch file.  This is the optimal system and is the California SDR program. This system is not one that is common because we find in most states the larger counties are expensing the design and development in order to get a system available for taxpayers to use where in California the system was a state implemented system. Now although it is a state system, there are many counties in California that do not participate because the software and hardware changes needed are expensive and not in the budget.  I feel this is why in the Alabama Act 415 has specifically addressed expense by including text in the statute that reads, that there program will not cost the taxpayer or jurisdictions. Now to address your specific question, when an online system is offered and it is one where an interface is used we are limited because the interface does not allow for data to be uploaded.  However when an online system is designed to allow for file uploads we do several things to support the process in our software. First we create views in our software in the format of the required fields so that you are able to pull up your asset listing and export out the needed data.  The other thing we do is provide help guides to walk you through steps providing tip to help in your process.

What about e-mail submission? As in King County WA that requires using Excel files instead of an on-line filing, used in lieu of using signature? Any other?

If I am following your question, we find from time to time some jurisdictions will accept an e-mail submission, however it is not very common today with exception of emailing an Excel file with required data fields.  When a return is e-mailed the jurisdiction has the expense of printing that information.  This is the same with faxing returns to a jurisdiction. Now the Excel file is our preferred source instead of an online filing system because the filer’s time management is better when you’re not required to use a software interface to step you through the process. This becomes overwhelming when a company has multiple locations and each location has to be done manually. As for the in lieu of signature many online systems have you identify who you are and require you to check a box stating  that you accept that all information is accurate and so forth. As for emailing, your name is listed on the email.  I believe it is these kinds of scenarios that cause us to pose questions like yours that in turn have legislation writing new lawsthat specify what is acceptable and what is not.  Please reply back if I have not addressed all of your questions