Often, transformation requires disruption. It’s our belief here at CrowdReason that the property tax industry is ripe for transformation, perfectly poised to benefit from disruptive influences such as artificial intelligence. And our advanced property tax software, MetaTaskerPT and TotalPropertyTax (TPT), are leading the charge.
Here’s why the property tax system and its toolset are broken—and the disruption that’s changing everything.
What’s going on in the property tax industry that needs to change?
My 30+ years of experience in property tax have given me enough exposure to the industry to recognize that the issues tax professionals face stem from one thing: not having enough time to do the job well.
Most property tax teams are bogged down in time-consuming compliance activities, which limits the time they can spend on the most valuable parts of the job—making strategic decisions about asset classification and determining the true market value of their assets. Fair market value is the leading determinator of what your taxes will be; if your assessed value is higher than it should be then you’re paying too much tax. Therefore it’s critical to make sure your valuations are appropriate.
Asset due diligence requires that you understand the assets and their condition, and understand the market, all of which takes time to research. Whether you’re a consultant learning about your clients’ assets or you work in the industry, you’ll want to talk to the people in the field who know the assets; you may even want to do site visits. That takes time away from your compliance activities. What’s the solution? Most teams would simply forgo those valuation activities altogether, or, if the budget is available, hire a larger compliance staff.
Also, when it comes to managing compliance practices, I’ve seen the stress that compliance deadlines create. Deadlines tend to accumulate seasonally. When a busy season rolls around, teams work very hard, stay late, miss family time, and spend weekends at the office. Working under constant stress also leads to mistakes, creating other problems.
Other industries (and even the income tax side of the tax industry) have begun solving time-related issues like these with technology advancements; property tax has been one of the last to catch on. For many practitioners it is what it is: The system is viewed as a burden, one we all must bear. But it’s really a matter of technological catch-up. If there is another way to get the job done that is more efficient, more effective, and promotes better work-life balance, why not use it? (Tweet this!) With our software, we’re trying to ease the burden of tax teams’ existing activities and give them more time to focus on areas where they can create more value for their organizations.
How is legacy property tax software trying to solve these problems?
The way things have been done in property tax have not changed in many years, and that includes the tools being used. Legacy property tax software applications were introduced years ago and, other than small, incremental changes, they haven’t changed much over time. Our competitors are still thinking about the industry, and the solutions to the above challenges, in the same way. They’re using their existing toolsets to solve problems—for example, attempting to make the process scalable by improving the user interface.
Advanced tax technology isn’t a futuristic vision—your team could already be using it to get ahead. Here are three tax trends you can capitalize on now.
In fact, the solution requires thinking about the solution in a much different way—don’t focus on the interface, focus on the overall problem. Use a different toolset to solve that problem, then create an interface applicable to that.
How is CrowdReason software different?
CrowdReason software is solving the problem in a different way, by focusing on what’s happening tomorrow as opposed to what’s happening today. We utilize progressive technologies like machine learning, and virtualized labor to automate lower-level tasks. The impact on teams is huge, creating efficiency gains that are changing the way they work. (Read about how one company’s switch to our software changed the way they manage compliance.)
Property tax teams who are willing to adapt and take advantage of the opportunities afforded by technology experience increased efficiencies and increased recognition within their organizations as a result. (You can read more about what makes our software different here and here.)
Aside from saving time and increasing your team’s value, what are some other benefits you’ll get from using CrowdReason property tax software?
Property tax teams that use CrowdReason enjoy a more pleasant work environment. Team members who have historically done compliance tasks are doing higher-value activities and learning different things, such as valuation concepts. Those activities tend to be higher value because they result in bottom-line impacts to a company. (And if you’re consistently increasing the value of your company, your contributions will likely not go unnoticed.)
Another benefit of using the latest technology is being able to attract and retain top talent. Property tax is currently comprised of an aging workforce; plus, it’s a highly specialized field for which there’s no formal training other than on-the-job. As a result, there’s not a large influx of new talent.
To be able to organically grow skilled property tax practitioners, it’s crucial to create an environment where people want to work. That means having an approach consistent with the rest of the world, where advanced technology, algorithms, data wrangling, and data analytics are the norm. These are the concepts that interest new people coming to the field, not data entry and filling out forms.
What other industry challenges does advanced property tax software help face?
Even if we as practitioners change and evolve, jurisdictions may not have the funding or desire to make changes, which creates a need to work around them. For instance, jurisdictions tend to think about property tax as a series of individual decisions on single properties as opposed to a strategic practice based on the bigger picture. It’s challenging to make informed global decisions surrounding multiple properties when you’re receiving individual account notices on each of your properties separately. And the difficulties of handling the unstructured data included on tax notices is another obstacle standing in the way of progress. CrowdReason software tools work around shortcomings like these. (See how MetaTaskerPT extracts unstructured data from tax notices, bills, and returns, virtually eliminating data entry.)