FTB Board Meeting
The Franchise Tax Board held its first meeting of 2014 on March 12 in Sacramento. We webcasted live for the first time. Executive Officer, Selvi Stanislaus, opened the meeting by congratulating State Controller John Chiang, who chairs the Board, for being named “Attorney of the Year” by California Lawyer magazine. She went on to say that Controller Chiang created the strategy and authorized the litigation to ensure that life insurance companies comply with California's unclaimed property laws. The settlements are worth more than $86.7 million to California beneficiaries and up to $763 million nationwide. The Controller responded by acknowledging the hard work of his staff and Chief Counsel, Rick Chivaro.
The first agenda item showcased FTB 2013 accomplishments. Dan Tahara, from public affairs, presented the Board with a video of the FTB’s 2013 accomplishments, which included:
Improved Services to Help Taxpayers:
- Public counter staff now helps non–tax debtors.
- VITA vitality! – taxpayers save time and money in tax preparation assistance.
Effective Enforcement – Encouraging Tax Compliance:
- Top 500 List exceeds $300 million in revenue! Nearly $90 million of that in 2013.
- Criminal investigators level the playing field for taxpayers – 25 arrests and 98 percent conviction rate.
Strong Organization – Dedicated to the Community:
- Gave back more than $384,000 in charitable contributions and through walk–a–thons.
- Blood drives saved lives by giving 650 units of blood.
- Food drive gave more than 40,000 pounds of food to those in need.
What Others are Saying About Us:
- 2013 State Technical Innovator Award.
- Best in IT Collaboration Award.
- Small Business Procurement Award.
What’s Coming in 2014?
- Internal taxpayer folder – multiple systems, one easy access.
- New return validation system – more data / less fallout.
- New business entity credit card payment option – businesses asked, we answered!
Next our Chief Information Officer, Cathy Cleek, discussed technology trends including the proliferations of mobile devices. Close to 9 in 10 adults carry a mobile phone. One in five people check their phone every 10 minutes. Perhaps most surprising, however, was that three-quarters of 19 to 25-year-olds sleep with their smart phones. One thing to look forward to, she said, is our plan to improve the user experience for mobile devices in 2015 which will include launching applications for IOS and Android in 2016.
Finally Chris Reali, manager of e-programs, and Michelle Fallon, the Communications Services Bureau Director, talked about our filing season readiness program. As Chris described it, more than a thousand tasks are monitored to make sure when filing season begins taxpayers are able to interact with our systems. Michelle told the Board about the outreach efforts we’ve made to promote our e-filing programs like Ready Return and CalFile. She mentioned our efforts with YouTube videos and social media such as Facebook and Twitter. We received positive feedback from customers using our services and we greatly appreciate the support we had from our Board and Executive Officer.