The Alabama Department of Revenue on Oct. 1 will launch its free Optional Network Election for Single Point Online Transactions or ONE SPOT program. The software will allow businesses to pay their sales, use and rental taxes through one website instead of making multiple payments to the different cities and counties where they operate. Streamlining the process could help cut down on the man-hours and money spent just to pay those taxes each month, some local business owners say.
The Department of Revenue has spent months developing ONE SPOT since the Alabama Legislature approved it last year. Businesses that operate in multiple cities and counties will be able to access the program through the department's main website. Department of Revenue Deputy Commissioner Curtis Stewart said businesses can access the program using the login code they should already have to pay their state sales taxes.
"Previously, for example, a drugstore business with a location in different cities would have to file a tax return in every one of those cities," Stewart said. "You'd have to go to the website for each city to a file a form or, if they don't have a site, mail the return."
Stewart said ONE SPOT will make filing taxes simpler and faster for businesses.
"I can't imagine them not saving time by doing it all in one spot," Stewart said.
Phil Webb, owner of Webb Concrete and Building Materials of Oxford, which has eight locations in multiple counties, said though he has employees and a system in place to handle all his business' taxes, the process is still time-consuming.
"We collect sales tax on every cubic yard of concrete we sell," Webb said. "The tax rates all vary between counties and cities and we have to go in and file reports for every one."
For instance, Webb Concrete pays a 10 percent sales tax rate in Anniston but 9 percent in Heflin. Most of the company’s taxes are paid through various websites, but some still must be filed on paper and sent by mail.
Webb said he likes the idea of ONE SPOT.
"It sounds like it will be a tremendous help in time and labor," Webb said. "It takes us several hours to do our taxes each month."
Britt Middlebrook, a CPA in Oxford, said he no longer handles sales tax filings for businesses anymore and doesn't know of any other accountant in the area who still does. Middlebrook said businesses file sales taxes themselves through municipal websites. Still, Middlebrook has clients who would benefit from ONE SPOT, he said.
"I have a client, an office furniture place in Anniston that sells in different counties," Middlebrook said. "It's a headache for them to file for Gadsden and Talladega and go to different sites or file paperwork."
Nancy King Dennis, spokeswoman for the Alabama Retail Association, said her organization supports ONE SPOT and will soon help educate its members about the site.
"We have some members who have multiple locations across the state and have to file hundreds of tax returns," Dennis said. "This site will be a convenient way for retail to file all in one place."
Greg Brown, chairman and CEO of BR Williams Trucking in Oxford, said his business does all its taxes in house and will likely benefit from using ONE SPOT. Brown said his business must pay rental taxes on truck rentals and annual highway use taxes.
"It's costly and burdensome," Brown said of tax filing with multiple cities and counties. "I would be all for a streamlined way to handle that ... anything to make things more efficient."
For more information about ONE SPOT, businesses can visit www.revenue.alabama.gov.
Staff writer Patrick McCreless: 256-235-3561. On Twitter @PMcCreless_Star.