Dale Simpson, who has more than 25 years of compliance and collections experience with the Department of Revenue, was recently named the Director of the Bureau of Enforcement and Taxpayer Assistance (BETA), a new bureau the department launched to consolidate its field agents. Simpson said this realignment of the department's field staff will have a number of benefits, including new operational efficiencies, improved customer service and reaching Pennsylvania taxpayers earlier to help them avoid common pitfalls.
"We want to reach out to taxpayers and businesses earlier and more often to help them understand what their tax obligations are," Simpson said.
Simpson began his tenure with the Department of Revenue in 1993 as a Tax Account Collections Technician in Pittsburgh. Since that time, he has emerged as a leader within the department, particularly when it comes to work in the field.
For example, in the late 1990s Simpson led an effort to improve the impact of the department's field agents through the implementation of "compliance checks" in the business communities of various municipalities. This initiative involved Revenue field agents periodically visiting local businesses to check on their accounts and ensure their sales tax licenses were prominently displayed. A byproduct of the initiative was that Revenue field staff created strong working relationships in the business community that reinforced the concept that they were working to ensure all taxpayers were operating on a level playing field.
Simpson went on to work in various supervisor positions in the Washington County and Pittsburgh Revenue District offices. In 2012, he was named Area Operations Director for the Western and Central regions. The position called for overseeing the operations of the department's district offices in those regions. In this role, Simpson and his colleagues operated in 50 of the 67 counties in Pennsylvania, which provided a great deal of experience working with different taxpayers throughout the state.
Simpson's innovative mindset and energetic spirit have remained strengths throughout his tenure with the Department of Revenue. Those traits are a big reason why in July 2019 he was named Acting Director of the Bureau of Collections and Taxpayer Services, a bureau that was recently folded into BETA along with three others Revenue bureaus.
In his new role as Director of BETA, Simpson said he still plans to play a key role in working with members of the business community. He wants to make early intervention and tax education for businesses a focus moving forward.
"We are big believers in the concept that voluntary compliance improves if we're doing a good job of reaching taxpayers early and often," Simpson said. "Launching BETA is a great way to achieve this while also enhancing the synergy between all of the agents in the field. That will help reduce the burden on the taxpayer as well."
Simpson noted that the Department of Revenue, under its prior organizational structure, aligned staff by tax types. This resulted in a structure where field staff were assigned to four separate bureaus. As a result, there was a lack of collaboration that resulted in situations where taxpayers may have received multiple notices or visits from field staff who were focusing on a specific tax type, rather than the entire taxpayer's account.
Under BETA, this will no longer be the case. The new bureau will be home to a cutting-edge Centralized Planning & Analysis team, which is being created to guide the identification, prioritization and assignment of active cases for the field agents. This team will also be responsible for performance metrics, refining case assignment strategies, and working to assign cases to field agents that are referred by staff in the department's call center.
"This unit will ensure that we are using data and analytical tools in a way that will allow the department to bring greater focus to our enforcement efforts," Simpson said.
The launch of BETA is one piece of the Department of Revenue's ongoing reorganization plan, which is on schedule to be completed early this year.
This article previously appeared in PA Tax Update No. 206.