Business tax accounts in state are being registered online Maryland comptroller is first in nation to offer service

Computer technology

March 02, 1998|By June Arney | June Arney,SUN STAFF

The state comptroller's office is taking its tradition of innovative technology a step further, announcing today that it is the first in the nation to put registration for business tax accounts online.

A partnership with Microsoft Corp. and local technology firm Dynatech Integrated Systems in Columbia will allow new Maryland business operators to use computers to set up a variety of tax accounts, including unemployment insurance, said Marvin Bond, a spokesman for the comptroller's office.

"It unchains the business person or accountant from paper, and it unchains us from processing paper," Bond said. "We did 61,000 applications last year. That's a lot of paper to push."

The comptroller's office will demonstrate the interactive system in a news conference this morning. Maryland merchants have already begun using the system.

"We know from the interest that's been expressed by other states that this is the first in the nation," Bond said.

The project, in the works for about nine months, started when employees in the comptroller's office learned of Microsoft's interest in forming partnerships to create new computer applications and made a proposal to the company.

"This is a way to make it easier to do business with the state," said Kim Tubbs, a Microsoft corporate account executive who specializes in state and local government for the mid-Atlantic region.

Maryland's new system will enable business operators to set up tax accounts through the Internet. Bond estimated the potential field of participants in the hundreds of thousands. The state has 100,000 employer withholding accounts and about 80,000 to 100,000 each of sales tax and unemployment accounts, he said.

Those accounts handle billions of dollars -- $5.7 billion in employer withholding, $2.2 billion in sales tax and an average of $300 million in unemployment insurance, Bond said.

Maryland officials have been invited to present the system in St. Louis in a few weeks when hundreds will gather at a meeting of the Federation of Tax Administrators to discuss compliance and taxpayer service.

Dynatech played a key role in building the system, which is based on Microsoft Backoffice software. Dynatech designs, engineers and maintains computer systems, telecommunications networks and software, and it has expanded quickly, in part by forming alliances with major corporations.

Past innovations in the comptroller's office have drawn attention from across the nation and beyond. In 1994, when the state office rolled out imaging technology that allowed income tax forms to be scanned, processed and retrieved, it received visits from almost all the states with income taxes and 20 foreign countries -- from South America to China, Bond said.

Pub Date: 3/02/98

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