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Data quality vital for federal tax bureaus during busy season

Rachel Wheeler Archive

There are many reasons that federal government officials have a need to maintain high levels of data quality. One of them is tax collection - if the public sector is to keep revenue flowing in at the level it's accustomed to, it needs to make sure it's able to contact citizens and demand that they pay their taxes. If tax bureaus have incorrect contact information for consumers, the confusion will lead to administrative breakdowns and, more importantly, missing money.

This principle is by no means limited to the United States. Consider the case of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) in Pakistan - according to The News International, the bureau sent tax notices to 31,000 non-filers across the country, but as many as 20,000 of them were undeliverable because of errors in their addresses in the organization's contact database.

According to The News, this raised doubts among many about the reliability of the government's databases. Even the contact information listed for high-profile citizens, who should be easy to find, was incorrect in many cases. How can the FBR be trusted to track down ordinary people?

"The chairman [of the] FBR has taken notice of this arising difficulty and is taking remedial measures to overcome the situation," Shaheen Qazi, who's in charge of member facilitation and taxpayer education at the FBR, told the news source.

Qazi explained that tax notices had gone missing for a variety of reasons, including the quality of the FBR's data and problems with the courier services delivering notices in an effective manner. Nevertheless, the practice of sending notices to non-filing citizens will continue in the months ahead.

"The FBR will send tax notices to 100,000 non-filers during the ongoing financial year," Qazi said. "So far, the tax machinery has sent 31,153 notices all over the country."

Tax collection technology has come a long way in recent years. According to The Guardian, a major factor has been the growth of information and communication technology (ICT). Government organizations have been able to keep a closer eye on citizens, monitoring their tech habits and keeping their contact information up to date.

The news source explained that this is becoming a growing interest among all economies, both developed and developing ones. On both ends of the spectrum, there's a need for higher levels of data quality so that government organizations can better communicate with citizens.