March 2003

Website of the Month: Federation of Tax Administrators

By Susan B. Anders, PhD, CPA, St. Bonaventure University

The Federation of Tax Administrators (FTA) hosts a helpful website at that provides easy access to state tax information and other resources. Although the FTA site is fundamentally designed to serve state tax administrators, much of the information on the website is accessible and useful to the general public. One unique feature is the comprehensive multistate format, which simplifies the process of comparing different states and of accessing multiple state information from one location. The site also offers some free multistate reports that are somewhat dated but still quite useful, as well as fast links to state and federal tax websites.

Information and Resources

The FTA website offers state comparisons of tax rates by clicking on the “state comparisons” link on the home page, and then “tax rates” on the subsequent page. The drill-down menu then offers a choice of summarized individual and corporation income tax rates, sales tax rates, and excise tax rates. One choice provides a very useful summary of state three-factor apportionment formulas. Other state comparisons that may be of interest to tax practitioners include state amnesty programs, sales tax holidays, and electronic commerce taxation information.

An excellent free resource under “state comparisons,” and also available under “surveys,” is a downloadable study titled Summary of Individual Income Tax Provisions, which, although slightly dated (1999), is worth a look. The document includes summary tables of standard deductions, personal exemptions, and tax rates and brackets by state. The study also contains one-page summaries of each state’s tax base, tax rates, and other information. This is a very handy booklet for a tax practitioner who does not maintain a multistate resource library.

Another useful free resource is FTA Report: State Sales Taxation of Services, which is available for download on the State Comparisons/Tax Rate page. This study is fairly dated (1996) as well, but is a very comprehensive review of the types of services that are subject to sales tax in the individual states. A somewhat bulky appendix is available that updates the report to 2002.

One time-saving and extremely useful feature of the website is the “links” button, which appears on every page. The drill-down menu offers links to state tax agency websites, state tax forms, and state Internet tax return filing. There are also links to federal government sites such as the IRS, and private sector groups such as Tax Talk Today. The general lack of graphics throughout the website makes finding information very quick and easy. The main index appears at the top of every page, and other pages have a straightforward left-hand navigation guide. Getting lost is almost impossible, and the links and downloads are fast and in working order.

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