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Revenue Employees Keep Funds Flowing for Pennsylvanians During COVID-19 Pandemic

10/29/2020

Harrisburg, PA — The Wolf Administration today recognized the work of staff assigned to the Department of Revenue's Bureau of Imaging and Document Management (BIDM) facility in Harrisburg. Employees who work at this facility are responsible for scanning and processing all mail, paper tax returns, paper checks and claims for the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program received by the Department of Revenue. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, BIDM employees transitioned to working in split shifts in order to follow health and social distancing protocols. Staff working at BIDM also seamlessly incorporated roughly 50 Revenue employees from other bureaus within the department into temporary roles at BIDM. These employees were temporarily reassigned to help handle the surge in work that accompanies tax season.  

Despite these changes in operations, between April and September BIDM employees processed more than 2.3 million checks totaling more than $3.7 billion. They also processed more than 467,000 application forms for the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program, which helps older and disabled Pennsylvanians. More than 310,000 of the rebates processed this year were paid earlier than the normal July 1 distribution date to provide needed financial relief during the pandemic.  

"We are incredibly proud of our employees for the dedication they have shown while making major adjustments to their routines over the last several months," Revenue Secretary Dan Hassell said. "The work they do is a vital part of the process that ensures Pennsylvanians receive their tax refunds and rebates as quickly as possible. This work took on even greater importance this year due to the fact that many Pennsylvanians have been struggling because of the pandemic."

"These revenue department employees exemplify the resiliency and commitment we've seen throughout our workforce during the pandemic," said Secretary of Administration Michael Newsome. "Whether they are working remotely or adapting their in-person work to meet public health guidelines, our employees remain committed to their missions to serve Pennsylvania during these challenging times."

Approximately two-thirds of commonwealth employees continue to work onsite, performing duties that cannot be accomplished remotely. The remaining one-third are either teleworking full-time or splitting their time between telework and working onsite based on their job duties.

Amanda George, a division chief at BIDM who oversees mail operations, said the staff at BIDM is a diverse group that benefits from the fact that the majority of employees are cross trained in various aspects of the facility's operations. That means employees help each other with different tasks at various times of the year depending on where a need arises.

George said at some points of the year the BIDM facility receives more than 200,000 pieces of mail per day, including portions that are required to be sorted by hand. This year also presented new challenges for BIDM employees because the deadline for filing personal income tax returns was extended 90 days to July 15, 2020. That meant the usual rhythm of tax season was different than in prior years, but everyone at BIDM worked to tackle each task and get the job done.   

"Everyone here is very accommodating and we rise to the challenge," said George, who has spent her entire 20-year career with the Department of Revenue working at BIDM. "That's always been our mentality here."

Lawrence Lewis, a division chief who oversees imaging and banking support at BIDM, said that it's difficult for people who haven't visited the BIDM facility to recognize the volume of work that flows through the doors. For example, one section that he oversees often processes over $1 billion in payments in the month of April during a traditional tax season.

Lewis said he believes everyone who works at BIDM has handled the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic in a way that they should all be proud of. He said he and his colleagues understand the importance of the work they do on behalf of Pennsylvanians.  

"Our version of customer service is being able to process all of these things in a timely and efficient way to make sure people are getting the services they need," Lewis said. "To have roughly 120 people be able to do the amount of work that they do says a lot about how hard they work and their work ethic."

The Bureau of Imaging and Document Management (BIDM) employs approximately 125 full-time workers and is responsible for receiving, sorting, preparing, controlling and banking all remittances and their associated documents submitted to the Department of Revenue. This bureau is responsible for creating an audit trail and a legal image archive of tax documents and checks received by the department. It also performs work for many other commonwealth agencies that have scanning and processing needs.

Media Contacts:

Jeffrey Johnson, Department of Revenue, ra-press@pa.gov
Dan Egan, Office of Administration, degan@pa.gov   

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