There’s an old proverb that says, “Experience is the best teacher.” Someone tagged onto it with their own sage observation: “And the worst experiences teach us the best lessons.”
Over the past few years the Tax Professionals of Thomson Reuters Government have experienced a few scenarios that have definitely presented learning opportunities. When the California state legislature changed its Tax Increment Financing code during a critical development phase of the new Aumentum Technology Platform, product and engineering teams had to pivot to ensure necessary changes were implemented despite the quick change in direction. When Minnesota rolled out the Property Record Information System of Minnesota (PRISM), both Thomson Reuters and the Minnesota Testing Committee (composed of representatives from 17 counties) invested significant man hours to support the rollout. And in Virginia, a legislative change related to important property value credits given to the spouses of military personnel and first responders killed in action sparked more than a few struggles.
“We are often reactionary to very critical legislative changes that not only have a large impact on our customers, but that also require either configuration or engineering changes to our software products,” says Latonia Vance, senior manager, Aumentum Tax.
In contrast, the smooth and successful implementation of our business revenue module in Mendocino County following the legalization of cannabis in California demonstrates how being ahead of the legislative curve is a win-win for Thomson Reuters and Aumentum users. Now Mendocino County can seamlessly collect tax on cannabis—thanks to the proactive way Thomson Reuters anticipated and addressed the customer’s need.
Getting Ahead of the Curve
To facilitate a more proactive approach to the legislative developments that affect our products, Thomson Reuters has created the Legislative Governance Group (LGG).
“In order to position our business unit for scalable growth and to simplify our internal business operations, this cross-functional team will improve responsiveness and awareness of potential changes that may impact our software products, create clear accountability and handoffs for required changes, and enhance our communication both internally and externally regarding any legislative impacts,” Vance explains.
Building a Tight-Knit Group of Allies
By tapping into counties, state agencies, user groups, and associations, the LGG will be able to stay abreast of developing legislative changes across the nation. Leveraging the reach, popularity and immediacy of our Knowledge Solutions’ tool—Checkpoint—the group will be alerted to relevant legislative news and trends, and then quickly disseminate information to current and future Aumentum Technology Platform users.
“Checking with Knowledge Solutions, we discovered that Thomson Reuters is already the industry leader in online tax research,” Vance adds. “Currently, 36 of the nation’s State Departments of Revenue subscribe to Checkpoint. By using the power of the Thomson Reuters enterprise, we have a real opportunity to build on that and connect the dots for our customers while also illuminating the value of Thomson Reuters as a trusted partner. We encourage our people to help us boost awareness and greater adoption of Checkpoint by talking with their customers and urging them to try our free 30-day subscription.”
Of course, not all legislative changes will affect the technology stack, and Thomson Reuters will provide analysis and expert opinion on each. “We want our customers to know we’re here for them, and welcome conversations with them regarding legislative changes in their state and any potential impact on our software tools. The LGG gives them a forum to ask questions so we can connect with them, answer their questions, and let them know we’re aware of developments and addressing them, if necessary.
Connect with Us
Members of the Legislative Governance Group represent various disciplines throughout Thomson Reuters Tax & Accounting, Government and include:
Chair Person: Felicia Lopez, senior program manager
Vice Chair: Latonia Vance, senior manager, Aumentum Tax
Secretary: Khris Seger, senior manager, Valuation
Legal Analysts: Elaine Overdorf, support specialist; Sandy Ballard, product specialist
Alert Monitors: Chris Burchett, product specialist; Stace Skau, director, regional sales
Customer Liaison: Tim Lacy, senior account manager
Communications Chair: Christopher Barlow, senior director, marketing
Follow us on Community in the Legislative Governance Group subject, and contact the group at LGG@TR.com.