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As Tennessee's chief tax collector, the Department of Revenue is responsible for the administration of state tax laws and motor vehicle title and registration laws established by the legislature and the collection of taxes and fees associated with those laws. The Department of Revenue collects approximately 87 percent of total state tax revenue. In addition to collecting state taxes, the Department of Revenue collects taxes for local, county and municipal governments. In collecting taxes, the department enforces the revenue laws fairly and impartially in an effort to encourage voluntary taxpayer compliance. The department also apportions revenue collections for distribution to the various state funds and local units of government.
More than 900 people work for the Department of Revenue in jobs ranging from taxpayer assistants to tax auditors to title and customer service representatives. It is the responsibility of these employees to provide fair, firm and effective enforcement of the tax laws with courteous and friendly service. Personnel in the department receive tax payments, process returns, maintain detailed records, issue administrative rulings and perform audits to ensure accuracy and propriety.
In 1923, as part of a general reorganization of state government, the then three separate tax-collecting agencies were combined to form the Department of Finance and Taxation. The new department collected $17.6 million that year, and the work was handled by only three divisions. The Department of Finance and Taxation was renamed the Department of Revenue in 1959. In 1991, the Department of Revenue underwent a major reorganization to serve taxpayers in a more efficient manner.
The department's vision is to operate as a dynamic team to achieve total compliance with Tennessee's tax laws. The department's organizational structure functions in a team-oriented environment and provides services geared toward achieving total compliance. The department's initiatives include educating and assisting taxpayers, enforcing tax laws fairly and consistently, promoting and implementing electronic commerce to improve timeliness and accuracy in accounting for all collected funds, using automation and innovative methods to improve services, and administering the state’s motor vehicle title and registration laws.
Taxpayer Education and Assistance
Taxpayer assistance is always available here on our Web site. The Web site provides taxpayers access to vital tax information, forms and publications, fiscal information, and information on electronic filing. Tax help by telephone is available by by calling (800) 342-1003. Nashville-area residents and out-of-state callers should call (615) 253-0600. Telephone service hours are from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m., Central time. Department of Revenue offices throughout the state offer walk-in assistance from 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. local time each business day. Tax help is available through Revenue Help. The department also provides updates and information via e-mail list services (click here to subscribe). The department offers the public a wide range of information through its seminars for taxpayers and tax practitioners. Speakers are available through the Speakers Bureau at (615) 532-4975. The department also offers a new Tennessee Tax Video series to assist taxpayers with Revenue forms, electronic filing processes and other tax-related issues.
Local Government Assistance
In addition to collecting state taxes, the Department of Revenue collects taxes for local county and municipal governments. The Department of Revenue works hand-in-hand with counties and cities to answer questions, prepare reports, and ensure that taxes are distributed correctly among the 445 local governments in the state.
Title and Registration
The Department of Revenue provides motor vehicle title and registration services with regard to passenger and commercial motor vehicles, motorcycles, ATVs, trailers and mobile homes. Working with county clerks throughout the state, the department registers approximately 6.7 million vehicles and issues 2.1 million new titles each year. The Vehicle Services hotline is available statewide, toll-free at (888) 871-3171 and to Nashville-area and out-of-state callers at (615) 741-3101. Information about titling and registering a motor vehicle is also available here on our Web site.
The Department of Revenue conducts tax research and economic analysis to assist decision makers in other areas of state and local government. The Research Division estimates potential revenue impacts of proposed legislation, helps develop state tax revenue forecasts and evaluates comparative tax policies to determine fiscal effects.
Enforcement and Compliance
The Audit and Tax Enforcement Divisions and Special Investigations Section handle many aspects of the department's enforcement and compliance activities. The Audit Division has offices across the state and six offices located outside Tennessee. The division primarily reviews taxpayer records to determine compliance with state tax laws and educates taxpayers about tax requirements. The Tax Enforcement Division manages, tracks and collects delinquent taxpayer accounts. The Special Investigations Section detects, investigates and seeks prosecution of tax-related fraud. To report tax fraud, call (800) FRAUDTX (372-8389). Tax Enforcement and Special Investigations employees are located across the state.
Approximately 1.28 million checks and 6.4 million documents, including vehicle titles, vehicle registrations and tax returns, flow through the Processing Division annually. This division also handles returns and payments filed electronically, and performs lockbox services for five other state agencies. The department continues to promote electronic tax filing either through electronic data interchange or through the state’s web portal. Currently, electronic filing of the Hall income tax, professional privilege tax, sales and use tax, consumer use tax, business tax, and franchise and excise tax minimum and estimated payment returns and extensions is available here on our Web site. Taxpayers may also make bill payments electronically on the Web site. Payment options include electronic funds transfer (EFT) and credit card. Many business tax registration activities are available online. Information about motor fuel tax electronic data interchange and sales and use tax certified software providers is available here as well.