Letter from Michigan Treasurer Nick Khouri
As I wrap up my tenure as Treasurer of the State of Michigan, I want to thank you for your role in helping Treasury improve our service to taxpayers.
When I began in 2015, the Michigan Department of Treasury created a plan to become the best-operated Treasury Department in the United States by focusing on Operational Improvements, Culture of Service and Employee Engagement. This guides our departmental strategies and operations. While there is still much more to do, significant progress has been made. We have seen improvements in our processing, auditing, collections, systems, employee engagement and communications. Our many stakeholders have played an important role in this progress. You have provided valuable input as we have rolled out these solutions, allowing us to create processes, procedures and systems that are effective and efficient.
Earlier this year, the Council on State Taxation (COST) released a report that ranks the state of Michigan among the best in the nation for sales tax administration. COST gave Michigan an overall “A-” grade for its sales tax administration, ranking with Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin as the top four best sales tax administrators nationwide. The group objectively evaluated state laws and rules, state sales taxes based on their effectiveness in taxing personal consumption and state departments’ implementing uniform, fair and centralized administration of their sales taxes.
This ranking recognized Treasury’s commitment to the fair and efficient administration of the tax system. Improvements have been made in our Tax Processing, Tax Compliance and Tax Policy/Hearings areas since 2015.
I am thankful for the hard work and dedication from Treasury employees. Without them, none of this would have been possible. Our employees have learned and embraced the use of various continuous improvement tools to identify and implement solutions to the various challenges we were encountering. The Treasury team is committed to the work we began together and I am confident you will continue to see improvements in Treasury’s processes and systems.
We have also focused on improving our communication, both internally and externally. We have conducted numerous employee and taxpayer workshops, are now regularly issuing an external newsletter to taxpayers, and are more clearly articulating our messages. After a long period of limited guidance, we are focused on being much more responsive. We are publishing Revenue Administrative Bulletins, letter rulings, technical advice letters and other notices on a regular basis. These can be found on our website at Michigan.gov/Treasury/Reports and Legal Resources.
We are also working with the taxpayer community to review Treasury communications and correspondence to ensure they are more informative and easier to understand before we move them into circulation. To date, we have updated or deleted more than 3,000 messages. Finally, Treasury is hosting outreach events throughout the state so business taxpayers can learn about updates that affect them.
We believe it is critical to provide a sustainable, fair and efficient tax administration, and we know we can’t do this without engaged employees who are committed to building a culture of taxpayer service. We are focused on providing better training across all personnel levels, with an eye toward succession planning. To do this, we must cross-train and promote—as positions become available—those employees who show high potential. We are working on revising how we recruit, measure performance, promote from within, train and mentor. Improvements in these areas will continue well beyond the current year and provide lasting benefits to the taxpayers of Michigan.
The changes we have made together have set the foundation for bigger and better things in the years to come. With our committed leadership and employees and the partnerships with stakeholders, we are confident we can continue to identify and implement improvements to benefit taxpayers.
On a personal note, I would like to thank you for your willingness to provide feedback, get involved in our projects and to include Treasury in the important work you do. It has been a pleasure to work with you over the past few years. Thank you!
Nick Khouri, Treasurer
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