Streamlined Returns and Online Filing
- Industry: County Government
- Location: Marietta, Georgia
- Number of Employees: 5,000+
- Population: 832,000
- Tyler Client Since: 1998
- Tyler Products Used: CLT Appraisal Services™, iasWorld®, iasWorld Field Mobile™, SmartFile, Tyler Verify™
Cobb County, Georgia, has been a Tyler client for more than 20 years. As the state’s third-most populous county, Cobb was constantly looking for ways to optimize processes to better serve its constituents. The county recognized multiple systems and paper files created gaps for miscommunication, and connecting offices and building on existing software solutions could benefit employees and citizens across the entire state. Business was going digital, and folks at the tax assessor’s office were determined to keep up with the increasing demands of the modern citizen while also maintaining consistent and equitable operations.
For years, the county had relied on CLT Appraisal Services™ and Tyler Verify™ to supply accurate, verified property assessment data to offset already heavy workloads. The county had been leveraging this reliable data within iasWorld® — its core appraisal and tax solution — and noticed there were other areas within the organization that could benefit from increased capabilities and the elimination of more manual tasks. Specifically, the Personal Property Division, which manages more than 15,000 paper business personal property returns between January and April, saw a significant opportunity to implement a solution that could help with a yearly stressor.
These returns require thorough review by appraisers for accuracy, proper documentation, and more. Complicating things a bit more, a single return might include anywhere from one to a few hundred pieces of paper. Factor in human error, and these individual returns present numerous opportunities for omissions or misinterpretation. The office needed a solution that could reduce these errors, eliminate paper waste, minimize data entry, and most importantly, ease strain on the public.
Starting in 2017, the county began to implement more features of iasWorld and added critical functionality supporting electronic document filing. Tyler’s SmartFile allowed citizens to file documents online and reduced the time it takes county employees to manage and process the large number of business personal property returns.
Leveraging its new digital filing solution, the county instituted a process in which property owners could file business personal property returns online, appraisers could verify and update the information, and then the return would be uploaded automatically in iasWorld. Instead of having to spend an inordinate amount of time collecting and manually entering all the pertinent information into the system, this process optimization allows staff to focus on other important projects. Consider the time spent opening and sorting mailed documents, sifting through returns and organizing the files correctly for review by appraisers — these frustrations were all but eliminated. No data entry is required on the part of administrative staff, and any necessary updates to returns can be reviewed directly by appraisers within the system.
Cobb County has been a Tyler client for well over 20 years now in multiple operational areas. We attribute a large portion of our success to all that Tyler Technologies has helped us with. We have used Tyler for residential AVM modeling, appraisal services, and our CAMA system. We have a tremendous amount of confidence in their services and the people that we work with at Tyler.
Director and Chief Appraiser Stephen White quickly recognized the impact the new solution had on operations. “You don’t have to go into many different systems or access different views. Staff can go into one screen and click a link to drill down into more in-depth information, and this can be viewed across all property types at once. It’s a huge time-saver.”
The software allows the county to automate certain processes to save taxpayers and staff time, as well as eliminates a significant number of data entry errors caused by translating handwritten information. The county is also able to significantly reduce its reliance on paper in an effort to eventually remove the need for it in the workplace — a project the tax assessor’s office has been working on for quite some time.
This transition to digital filing is supported by great feedback from the county’s constituents as well. Taxpayers appreciate the ability to save time and money because many of the necessary forms are accessible online and auto-populate with the prior year’s information. Cathy Emery, personal property division manager, notes this as a critical component of the county’s operations. “We wanted to be as taxpayer-friendly as possible and do whatever we could to make it easier for the taxpayer to interact with us.” Since 2017, the county has experienced a reduction in walk-ins and calls during filing season and continues to bring innovative capabilities to its residents.
As the first to implement electronic filing of personal property via iasWorld, Cobb County is setting the bar for other organizations in the state and across the nation when it comes to efficiency through digital collaboration.
Many other large counties in Georgia, including the largest county, Fulton, have since recognized the benefits of digital filing with SmartFile. And, because of the ability to share information between offices and across Tyler solutions, many of these counties can work together and share best practices to maintain more connected communities.
Cobb County continues to work toward a paperless workplace and provides the public with a convenient, expedient, and transparent manner of engaging with its offices. The county now approaches each new tax season with confidence and precision thanks to a host of Tyler solutions and a dedicated staff of more than 5,000 employees countywide.