ANNAPOLIS — Maryland’s Board of Public Works has approved a $159.7-million contract to replace, upgrade and revitalize the state’s tax-processing system, Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot announced on Dec. 19, 2018.
The contract was unanimously awarded to the Pembroke, Mass.-based Revenue Solutions, Inc. Franchot expressed delight for the new system, “COMPASS,” which he estimates will be highly beneficial to Maryland taxpayers.
“I am very excited about our new COMPASS tax system, which will let us process tax returns more quickly and stop tax cheats from stealing Marylanders’ hard-earned money,” Franchot wrote in a release. “For taxpayers, this means an even-speedier tax refund and a more user-friendly experience that will eventually let them view and manage their accounts online.”
The COMPASS tax-processing system will replace the agency’s State of Maryland Tax (SMART) system, Computer Assisted Collection System and other antiquated tax-processing systems that operate on outdated, often-unsupported technology platforms, according to a statement released by the comptroller’s office.
The comptroller’s office currently uses various systems to collect taxes – one of which is a mainframe business tax-collection system that dates to 1987 and another system for individual income taxes and the sales tax, which began use in 1992.
“This is a chance to get rid of an out-of-date system that has served the state wonderfully, but is no longer flexible enough to provide the level of customer service to our taxpayers that we want to,” Franchot said.
The new project will likely bring the collection of all Maryland taxes – income, sales, property, fuel – under a single system.
The comptroller’s office emphasized that the new system will include the following: improved fraud detection and prevention programs; increased ability for taxpayers to manage their accounts via online self-service applications; maximized compliance with best-practice security standards, internal controls and policies; maximized audit, collection, reporting and estimating functionality; and system stability and security.
The new system is set to be implemented within the next three to four years, so there will be no impact for the 2019 tax season. Sharonne Bonardi, the deputy comptroller, is overseeing the system’s implementation.
The new system will speed up refunds, and even those who file paper returns should see faster refunds than they do now.
Currently, amended tax returns are processed by hand, but with the new COMPASS system, they will be processed electronically, and any money due should arrive within three days, she said.
Businesses also will benefit from the new system, Bonardi said. Business owners who may pay several different types of taxes – sales tax and corporate income taxes for example, in addition to personal income tax – will be able to track all their accounts through the same system, she added.
The only individuals the integrated system will be inexpedient for are “fraudsters,” since the new tax system makes it easier to detect fraudulent tax returns.