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Recommendations concerning electronic funds transfer procedures.

Recommendations Concerning Electronic Funds Transfer Procedures February 28, 1990

On February 28, 1990, TEI President William M. Burk wrote to Harley T. Duncan, Executive Director of the Federation of Tax Administrators (FTA), concerning the FTA's draft recommendations for electronic funds transfer procedures for the payment of state taxes. The draft recommendations were developed following a January 5, 1990, hearing at which TEI and other interested parties testified. (The Institute's testimony was reprinted in the January-February 1990 issue of The Tax Executive). Mr. Burk's February 28 letter to Mr. Duncan is reprinted below.

On behalf of Tax Executives Institute, I am pleased to submit the following comments on the Federation of Tax Administrator's draft electronic funds transfer (EFT) recommendations, which were released by the FTA on January 29, 1990.

TEI appreciates the leadership that the Federation of Tax Administrators has displayed in developing EFT guidelines for the payment of state taxes. As we emphasized in our January 5, 1990, testimony, EFT uniformity is of paramount concern to the business taxpayers represented by TEI's membership, and we believe that the process the FTA has followed in developing its draft recommendations bodes well for the implementation of fair and efficient EFT systems.

On the whole, we believe the FTA has done a commendable job of balancing the comments received from state tax administrators, TEI, and other interested parties. Although not all the positions set forth in our January 5 testimony have been adopted in the draft recommendations, we do believe that the FTA has been responsive to legitimate business concerns and realities. We are especially pleased with the FTA's recommendations in respect of timely payment and the proposed due diligence exception (pages 7 and 8 of the FTA paper).(*) In addition, we wish to affirm our willingness to cooperate, as part of the National Automated Clearing House Working Group on Acknowledgments or otherwise, in addressing unresolved proof-of-payment issues.

TEI generally supports the proposed guidelines in respect of filing thresholds and the imposition of EFT obligations (page 4 of the FTA paper). In particular, we appreciate the rationale underlying the proposal that taxpayers meeting the thresholds be required to make EFT payments for a one-year period at which time there would be a redetermination whether the EFT thresholds are still met. We recommend, however, that some flexibility be provided in applying this "one-year" rule. Specifically, we recommend that a procedure be provided whereby taxpayers may apply for a waiver of the one-year rule where, for example, their business has undergone significant restructuring ("downsizing") or where the level of their business (and, hence, their tax liability) is especially susceptible to seasonal variances. The FTA paper might also be revised to incorporate a "dual threshold" concept; under such an approach, a State would set both an annual and a payment threshold and establish a waiver mechanism that would come into play where the taxpayer demonstrates that the level of tax payments will fall below the specified payment level even though the annual threshold will continue to be exceeded.

Finally, with particular regard to the draft recommendation concerning "Acknowledgements/Proof of Payment" (page 8 of the FTA paper), we believe some clarification may be necessary concerning the use of the so-called Tele-tax approach to payment verification. The FTA paper states that pending the development of a full-fledged "Acknowledgement System" within the ACH system, States may wish to adopt a Tele-tax option whereby a taxpayer could call the tax agency and determine whether the payment was received. It is nuclear whether such an approach would be mandatory - that is to say, that taxpayers would be required in all instances to make the verification call. We suggest a mandatory rule would be unnecessarily burden-some for both taxpayers and the State and would diminish the administrative burdens of EFT. We recommend that the FTA paper be revised to clarify that the use of a Tele-tax approach to verification should be optional with the taxpayer.

Once again, TEI appreciates the opportunity to participate in the development of the EFT guidelines. We believe this project can serve as a paradigm for future cooperative efforts and especially look forward to working with FTA representatives on various administrative bill of rights issues.

We should be pleased to respond to any questions you might have about the Institute's position on various EFT issues or would appreciate being informed whether the comments received from state tax administrators and other reviewers of the draft recommendations might prompt the FTA to reconsider any of it recommendations. In this regard, please do not hesitate to call either Gordon S. Gilman, chair of TEI's State and Local Tax Committee, at (713) 650-5599 or Timothy McCormally, the Institute's Tax Counsel, at (202) 638-5601.

(*) We also commend the FTA for advising the States that processing records of ACH transactions are maintained for only 12 months and, thus, that it may be necessary to conduct more frequent "delinquency reports" than currently.
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Title Annotation:letter to Harley T. Duncan, Executive Director of Federation of Tax Administrators
Author:Burk, William M.
Publication:Tax Executive
Date:Mar 1, 1990
Words:818
Previous Article:Comments on miscellaneous revenue issues considered at February 21-22, 1990, hearings, March 9, 1990.
Next Article:Comments on economic performance and the accrual of state and local property taxes, February 27, 1990.
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