Case Study: City of Seattle

A commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) tax system to quickly implement new tax types.


Limitations of the existing tax system were holding the city back. The City of Seattle required a more flexible and configurable tax system so that they could add new tax types with ease.



Part of Seattle’s need for an update came from its role in administrating the tax assessments for Business Improvement Areas (BIA). These BIAs required additional tax types with unique lifespans and formulas.


The City’s Department of Finance & Administrative Services (FAS) was responsible for business licensing and revenue administration of $399M in tax revenue, 84,000 businesses, and 230 audits per year!


The FAS legacy system was developed in-house in 1996, and RSi’s solution needed to seamlessly integrate and complement existing workflow and architecture.

The Challenge


Historically the City was encumbered with manual, ineffective processes complicated by disparate data sources difficult to use together and lacked sophisticated analytics and modeling to identify non-compliance. Limitations of the existing tax systems were holding the City back from innovating new approaches to funding City improvements and supporting its citizens.


The City of Seattle (City) Department of Finance & Administrative Services (FAS) sought modern, transformative approaches to bring its vision to reality.



  • Automate and improve current manual processes,
  • Integrate and aggregate a mix of internal and external data sources,
  • Enable more sophisticated analytics and modeling to better identify potential tax issues and optimize audit workflow
  • Make current tax audit selection and case management processes more consistent and efficient resulting in an enhanced ability to identify audit candidates with a high likelihood of non-compliance and increased auditor efficiency

A Unique Circumstance

In support of local businesses, the City is responsible for collection and administration of the Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) tax assessments. Seattle businesses may initiate a self-imposed assessment for business and commercial improvement purposes. BIAs are conceived, designed, and managed locally by those who are paying the assessments, while the City handles assessment administration and collections. Therefore, BIAs require additional tax types in the City’s tax system including unique formulas and lifespan.


With over ten BIAs in use, the city uses BIAs as a means for supporting businesses and local communities. For both LIDs and BIAs, the City looked to RSI’s ITS solution which offered greater flexibility to handle these tax collection and administration challenges presented by these unique assessment types.

The Solution

RSI’s Revenue Premier solution proved to be just what Seattle needed to realize their vision. The City explicitly required a proven, commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) system, configurable to meet the specific requirements of LIDs, BIAs and other taxes in Seattle. With these goals in mind, the City began work with RSI in 2015 following a competitive bid process.


A COTS software solution, Revenue Premier provided:

  1. Open Architecture enabling integration with legacy systems and use of best-of-breed technologies
  2. Accessible Data Environment aggregating data and facilitating data-driven analysis, decisions, and processes
  3. Configurable to handle even the City’s most unique requirements without customizations
  4. Proven and Versatile Functionality delivering extensive functionality and best practices out of the box, with automated workflows driving consistency across the organization

The Results

Within 18 months, Seattle had implemented Local Area Improvement District (LID) taxes, Business Improvement Areas (BIA) taxes and fully modernized audit selection, management, and assessment functionality.


With the ease of incorporating additional taxes in the system, the City subsequently added Sweetened Beverage tax and is currently finishing up addition of another LID tax as well as a Heating Oil and Congestion taxes (three taxes added successfully added to the system over just a few months) with plans for moving other taxes in the system very soon.


Project KPIs:

  • 3 new tax types – added in 6 months
  • 3 LIDs active in the new ITS system
  • 10+ BIAs active in the new ITS system

“The City has implemented three new tax types in record time – with two more in development. Our ability to readily implement these assessments provides significant new funding to the City.

Revenue Premier and the RSI team made this possible. We are very satisfied with our decision to select Revenue Premier. They have delivered a best of breed solution.”

Joseph Cunha

License and Tax Administration, Division Director

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