D.C. offers free online business tax filing

D.C. offers free online business tax filing

The District of Columbia now offers online business taxpayer services for sales and use, franchise, employer withholding and personal property taxes.

Some states and municipalities offer business tax services over the Internet, but most flow through outside vendors that charge a fee. The district's new service is free.

Accenture LLC of Chicago developed the D.C. eTaxpayer Service Center, at www.taxpayerservicecenter.com. Businesses can also link to the service through the district's Web site, at www.washingtondc.gov.

The online system is based on a similar system developed by Accenture for the Republic of Ireland's Revenue Online Service. The district's prototype of the system won an E-Citizen Service Award from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The Web application runs under Solaris on a Sun Microsystems quad-processor Enterprise 250 server.

Businesses in the district can file tax returns online and make payments electronically either by entering a credit card number or having the payments deducted from bank accounts via electronic funds transfer. In addition, businesses can view account balance information and correspond with the district's Tax and Revenue Office through the online service.

Herbert J. Huff, D.C. Tax and Revenue's deputy chief financial officer, says the online business taxpayer system helps the district more efficiently collect revenue.
Herbert J. Huff, Tax and Revenue's deputy chief financial officer, said the system helps the district more efficiently collect revenue.

'The system allows us to easily keep track of delinquent accounts and know exactly when payments came in and where the funds need to go,' he said.

Here's your receipt

One of the first businesses in the city to test the system was the Four Seasons Hotel in Georgetown.

Will Haden, a Four Seasons staff accountant, said the online service helps his company make sure it is paying the right amount of sales and use taxes each month.

'We didn't mind being the guinea pig,' Haden said. In fact, using the Web site supplies a bonus, he said. 'Our taxes are calculated automatically, and we don't have to worry when it comes time to be audited.'

Haden said making monthly payments over the Internet cuts down on the number of people involved in the tax payment process.

'One person would put the taxes together; another person would verify it and cut the check; then it would go through the check signature process of a couple of people; and then someone would file the information and mail the payment. Now I do the process all on my own'just one person,' he said.

Haden said another advantage of the service is how quickly the payment is deducted from the company's bank account.

'There is no lag time, and that helps us better keep track of our cash flow,' he said.
Huff said the district is planning to have online services available to residents to file personal income taxes and real property taxes within the year.

'Donna Young


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