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Collections 2020 - The Future of Collections

Introduction

This document presents our vision of collections in the year 2020. It factors in technological advances, demographic changes, increasingly self-employed taxpayers, the global economy, potential deficit challenges, and other considerations.

Mission

In 2020, we continue to demonstrate our mission and values through the services we offer and actions we take. We constantly review our programs, procedures, and technology to ensure we remain on the cutting edge. We optimally serve our community, build partnerships with taxpayers and practitioners, and pursue tax evaders to the full extent of the law. Most importantly, we collect taxes in the fairest manner, at the earliest time, at the least cost, while protecting the sensitive taxpayer data we possess.

Tailored Approach to our Customers

Online Full-Service Tax Center

In 2020, most of our national and global customers transact business on the Internet. To best serve them, we provide an online Full-Service Tax Center. This allows our customers to manage their accounts with maximum flexibility, using mobile or land-based Internet devices. Our site is user friendly and answers virtually any question. It clarifies our processes and procedures, makes FTB essentially transparent, and is available in all major languages. Taxpayers and practitioners go online to file returns, make payment arrangements, and send or receive tax correspondence. Our security system lets them safely access their accounts, identify tax issues, and review resolution options. We also use consulting firms and customer feedback to ensure our Website meets our customers’ needs. Since most of our customers handle their accounts online, our Full-Service Tax Center provides unprecedented service at minimal cost. 

Personalized Customer Care

We personalize our services in other ways too. We host interactive presentations for tax practitioners. These enhance mutual understanding and promote open dialogue. We accommodate Face-to-Face Internet programs and videophone systems. These allow us to work face-to-face with customers worldwide, and display, transmit, or receive documents electronically. Our systems analyze our callers’ accounts, route them to expert staff, then populate staff screens with account information for faster resolution. We have a large multilingual staff and offer FTB notices in every major language. Our phones even translate languages, so our entire staff can speak to multilingual callers.

Individualized Collection Focus

We also tailor our approach for each type of taxpayer. For instance, we distinguish between delinquent taxpayers and non-compliant taxpayers. Delinquent taxpayers avoid tax laws due to fear. They believe their issues are beyond repair, that they owe more than they do, or that we will take everything from them if they contact us. In contrast, non-compliant taxpayers evade tax laws to enrich themselves at others’ expense.

With delinquent taxpayers, we pursue voluntary compliance, focus on education, and provide maximum flexibility to resolve their accounts. This includes contacting them to explain their tax issues, provide tax documents, set up payment arrangements, or determine temporary or permanent hardships (if applicable). We seek to resolve their tax issues, maintain lasting compliance, and prevent future tax issues.

But we vigorously pursue collections against non-compliant taxpayers, take the necessary legal actions, and fully utilize our large staff of Field collectors and investigators (when appropriate). We identify repeat non-filers or non-paying filers in weeks and pursue them in months. Technological advances allow us to identify and seize bank accounts, income, and other assets in days -- not weeks. We file liens with the Secretary of State that encumber all property in the state, not just one county. Field collectors and investigators now use wireless laptops with full collection functionality. This provides them every FTB resource, anywhere, at any time. Investigators also use forensic audits to help investigate criminal activity and prosecute select non-compliers in various vocational sectors. As a result, these business areas remain highly compliant. 

Private Collection Agency Resource

We also use private collection agencies. This enables us to focus on our core competencies, while tapping into this resource for added leverage. These agencies uphold FTB security standards, and we monitor them to ensure strict compliance.

Recruitment, Development, Empowerment

Staff Recruitment

To keep our performance on the cutting edge, we aggressively pursue the most capable employee candidates. We recruit employees from colleges, other secondary education institutions, collection firms, and various private industries. When assessing each candidate, we seek potential leaders, innovators, communicators, educators, and critical thinkers. We seek people with diverse backgrounds and dynamic skill-sets.

Staff Development

Once selected, our employees enjoy competitive wages, great benefits, flexible schedules, telecommuting options, and job mobility. This lets them pursue various goals in and outside of work. We develop our employees, provide career counseling, and offer endless courses to expand their knowledge in every major business field. For those who seek a career path outside of management, we also offer high paying technical positions.

Staff Empowerment

We trust and empower our employees. We keep management staff at the smallest size possible, while expanding the authority and accountability of our collection staff. Management mainly ensures that our staff has the resources to achieve their mission, and that FTB procedures are implemented. This streamlines our processes, lessens the layers of decision-making, and allows us to take quick and effective actions. We also solicit and incorporate our employees’ feedback. As we implement their ideas and listen to their concerns, it makes our agency stronger, and shows we value their input.

Agency Integration

Collection Staff Integration

To maximize our resources further, we integrated our agency. For example, we train collection staff in every collection workload: personal income tax, business entities, and non-tax debt. By handling every collection workload, this naturally exposes staff to FTB areas outside collections. This provides collection staff with fuller knowledge of FTB, creates a highly trained workforce, and allows management to reallocate collection resources at any time (as needs require).

Collection Development Teams

Our collection development teams maintain the effectiveness of our integrated collection workforce. We select team members from each collection area based on expertise, leadership, and motivational skills. Each team develops advanced collection courses that deepen understanding, heighten achievement, and create a synergistic environment where best practices are identified and disseminated. 

Taxpayer Security

We also coordinate intradepartmental security measures to protect our sensitive taxpayer data. This includes stringent employee training, physical security, video surveillance, and electronic monitoring. As a result, we have never had a security breach.

Action Teams

To resolve departmental issues, we use action teams. Each action team is comprised of experts from various FTB areas. They analyze an assigned problem, discover solutions, coordinate resolutions, then disband. This program not only solves problems, but team members gain intradepartmental experience. In turn, this helps develop staff for future management positions.

Intradepartmental Coordination

We pursue other intradepartmental efforts to enhance our performance. For instance, Filing, Audit, and Collections streamlined their workloads so we can address a tax issue before a taxpayer repeats the mistake on another tax year. Also, FTB areas internally share all banking and income data obtained, including offshore transactions. As a result, collections and investigations can pursue this information quickly, taking effective action.

Virtual Agency Consolidation

We also combined our activities with the Board of Equalization and the Employment Development Department. This virtual consolidation eliminates redundancies and streamlines each agency’s workloads. This improves each agency’s services while lowering their costs.

Internal Revenue Service Coordination

We coordinate activities with the Internal Revenue Service as well. This enables us to share taxpayer information, develop new collection resources, and jointly identify and pursue tax evasion trends.

Conclusion

Our collection program is tailored to the needs of our taxpayers. We accommodate our customers, educate our community, increase compliance, lessen tax evasion, and maximize our efficiency and effectiveness. Moreover, we achieve this at a record low cost ratio.

We aggressively acquire the highest quality workforce in our industry, whether private or governmental. As our staff retires and vacancies abound, a talented, diverse, and technologically advanced workforce is assuming the challenges of the next generation. 

Our agency integration ensures this new workforce is well equipped, diversified, and sophisticated. They rotate to any collection workload at any time, with full expertise. Agency coordination enables us to safeguard sensitive taxpayer data, which bolsters public confidence in our department. Lastly, our integrated activities increase intradepartmental cooperation, create a reservoir of future management candidates, and merge our workloads with other agencies. This enables us to provide superior service and unsurpassed efficiency, at the least cost possible.

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