Imagine being able to pay your taxes online in five minutes or less—with your tax refund arriving just five days after you file. While that may sound improbable to taxpayers living in most parts of the world, it’s something Mexican citizens are actually experiencing.
Mexico’s tax authority, Servicio de Administración Tributaria (SAT), is using a customized Microsoft application for cloud-based tax collection based on Microsoft Azure that individuals and businesses can use to pay their taxes in a matter of minutes. Citizens simply log onto SAT’s portal with their tax ID number, review the earnings and deductions that have been automatically calculated and entered, and then file their return—with tax refunds deposited to their bank account within five days.
The solution is a truly self-service platform for paying taxes. It automatically knows citizens’ earnings and the amount of taxes their employer withheld. And because business purchases in Mexico are invoiced electronically, it can record all the purchases citizens made that are deductible as tax write-offs. All this information is displayed on a pre-populated tax return, with taxpayers able to enter tax deductions that the application neglected to include. Once they’ve confirmed the numbers, they simply push a button to automatically file their tax return—a process that can be completed in less than five minutes.
For SAT, the annual tax season between March and April is a hugely busy period in which the federal agency processes millions of documents from both individuals and businesses. SAT used the Microsoft tax collection application to process 100 percent of online tax returns this year—with zero downtime and no major incidents. By running the application on Azure, SAT was able to scale up very rapidly to accommodate large volumes of people accessing the system. The result has been improved customer satisfaction and increased tax collections due to the fact that more citizens are voluntarily filing their taxes. In 2015, for example, SAT collected 93.5 billion pesos (about US$5 billion) in additional revenue, a 15 percent increase over 2014.
The tax collection application is part of a larger strategic partnership between Microsoft and SAT to improve the tax authority’s efficiency through cloud computing services. Microsoft’s second largest Azure customer, SAT began modernizing its technology infrastructure in 2011 and has since come to rely on Microsoft for a wide range of IT needs including cloud services, application development, and consulting. By moving to Azure and other Microsoft technologies such as SQL Server and the .NET Framework, SAT now has a state-of-the-art technology environment that has enabled it to reduce costs, improve employee productivity, manage data more intelligently, and better serve citizens.
As Juan Manuel Galarza, SAT’s General Administrator for Communications and Information Technology, put it, “This year, taxpayers relied on new technologies developed by the team at Microsoft, which made the application simple, intuitive and easy to use. In addition, taxpayers benefited from proper planning and effort from SAT staff, who each day offered an efficient and transparent service. This is a great example of technological innovation and human talent working together for the growth of Mexico.”
To learn more about how cloud computing can improve organizational efficiency, please see our Microsoft Azure website, or request one of our available trials: Azure Government Trial, Office 365 Government Trial.