Calif. tax board cuts paper, speeds service, drops fees with app

The California Franchise Tax Board wanted a fast, free self-service way for businesses to obtain Entity Status Letters, official documents stating whether a business is in "good standing" with the FTB.

Honorable Mention

2012 GCN Awards

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The department traditionally provided these documents to approximately 10,000 requestors a year for a fee of $20 per letter, but handling the requests required many hours of manual research. The vast majority of letters were requested by visitors to FTB’s field offices, which then had to perform time-consuming manual research and preparation.

Overburdened by increasing requests for the letters, the tax board developed a citizen-centric, Web-based application that eased its burden of manual research and provided the documentation to requesters at no cost.

A departmental team of business users, technology staff and security specialists decided that a secure, Web-based application that could interface with the back-end business data stored on the mainframe would be the best method for delivering the official documents quickly and efficiently. The app and service were developed in .NET (C#) and supported on Microsoft Internet Information Services (IIS) 7.0. The connecting service was written in Java and connects to the mainframe business data. The team developed the requirements, architected, prototyped and delivered a finished product in February 2012.

Since then, more than 20,000 requestors have accessed the application to request letters, which are now free. And with the service available online, the number of visitors to field offices seeking Entity Status Letters has fallen almost to zero, freeing up resources to assist customers with other matters, the tax board said.

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