What is Geolocation or Geocoding?
Geocoding turns a non-exact description or addresses and normalizes it into a precise location.
Geocoding allows Symmetry to return applicable and accurate data for all of our four main products: Symmetry Tax Engine, Symmetry Payroll Forms, Symmetry Payroll Point, Calculators by Symmetry.
The two main concepts at work in the Symmetry Tax Engine (STE) that provide accurate withholding are the Location Code Service and Unique Tax IDs. The Location Code Service uses geolocation to determine precise employee work and home address locations. When paired with Unique Tax IDs, the Symmetry Tax Engine returns to clients’ applications the exact taxes that apply to each individual.
Symmetry Payroll Forms (SPF) uses geolocation as part of its process for determining what withholding forms apply to each individual employee.
As employees start the Guide Me process of Symmetry Payroll Forms, they input their home address on their Form W-4. The employee work address is set at the company level in the Symmetry Payroll Forms Settings Builder by your administrator. For clients who pass their employee data into Symmetry Payroll Forms via XML, home and work addresses are set through the XML data input. Once SPF has the home and work address of each employee, the Symmetry Payroll Forms web service calls Symmetry’s servers to perform the geolocation, returning the appropriate forms.
Symmetry also uses geolocation to pre-populate the forms with local tax information such as Political Subdivision (PSD) codes and school districts for Pennsylvania forms. In this scenario, the geocoded addresses together with the Symmetry Payroll Point web service return the local tax information so that employees and employers don’t have to perform manual lookups themselves.
Symmetry Payroll Point uses geolocation to determine the latitude and longitude of home and work addresses before querying our collection of shapefiles to retrieve the GNIS codes, which map to the Symmetry Tax Engine. As part of this process, Symmetry pulls the metadata associated with those addresses such as the state, county, GNIS number, city GNIS number, and Symmetry Tax Engine code type—whether school district, jurisdiction, etc. With this meta information, Symmetry then retrieves the geom or polygon, which is the shape of the shapefile and verifies whether or not the addresses are in a tax boundary. If they are, Symmetry returns the taxes that apply and the minimum wage rates.
Symmetry’s library of shapefiles come from a variety of sources. The US Census Bureau along with the GIS departments of the 50 State Departments of Transportation provide a large quantity of the shapefiles. Symmetry also creates its own custom library of Ohio JEDDs, Kentucky TIFs to DAFs, and more, to round out our collection.
Similar to Symmetry Payroll Point, Calculators by Symmetry relies on user-inputted data for the home and work addresses in order to calculate the proper taxes that apply. For states that have local taxes, work address fields and resident and nonresident buttons appear whereby the user can input a work address, which is then geocoded to determine the proper taxes. Leaving these address fields blank will result in no city or school district tax being calculated, and will thus not provide as accurate withholding results for the user.