Data tool generates ROI for state tax entity

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A tool originally created for internal use within the state entity that administers sales, fuel and alcohol taxes has proven so popular that it has been made available to the public – and won a federal award this summer.

The California Department of Tax and Fees Administration has a large amount of data through administration of 37 tax and fee programs, connection to cities and counties, and service to licensed businesses. This is public data, accessible via its open data portal, the ministry said Technical wire by email – but its Research and Statistics (R&S) section “wanted to do more to make data publicly available in an interactive and customizable way.” Among the takeaways:

  • Core principles of the department include “streamlining processes and leveraging new technologies to be smart in our mission,” he said, as well as a commitment to “be accessible and transparent and adapt to meet the challenges of the modern market ”. R&S has already provided on-demand access to data to its customers through the open data portal – researchers and academics typically using raw data. “It was so popular that R&S came up with the idea to release the interactive tool and make it available to the public,” the department said, noting that its chief executive officer and chief financial officer “enthusiastically supported the idea. “. The data visualization tool The project started at the end of 2019 and was made available to the public at the beginning of the following year – carried out entirely in-house through Microsoft Power BI, which integrated with the existing CDTFA software. R&S wanted to use an application and technology that was “inexpensive, secure, easy to learn, automatically updated and widely available to all if other entities wanted to undertake similar projects,” the department said, indicating that other states have expressed interest in creating something. similar.
  • Since then, CDTFA has continued to add data and functionality. When the COVID-19 pandemic began, local governments had, according to the department, “many questions about the effects of the pandemic on their sales and the use of tax revenues.” In response, R&S implemented a cash income dashboard that staff update weekly – offering near real-time sales information and using tax revenue to help local agencies create forecasts. R&S also added the ability to survey taxable cannabis sales, both per capita and by county; and deployed the ability to compare taxable sales per capita by city – and for up to five cities at a time. Visualizations that have proven effective so far include taxable sales by industry, tax rate by jurisdiction, and sales and use tax by local government – especially by comparing the city’s per capita income. These options, said the CDTFA, were created with input from clients, including the League of California Cities and the Greater Sacramento Economic Council.
  • Regarding the takeaways from the creation of the tool, the CDTFA indicated that the deployment of the internal version first – before the version intended for the public – “allowed us to establish a download management process. data and gave us an idea of ​​tools that might be useful. Then, once a public release was up and running, letting customers review it in beta allowed the service to use their suggestions to make continuous improvements.


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