Virginia Department of Taxation

Virginia Department of Taxation

Case Study: Virginia Department of Taxation
Project: Get Square VA
How do you get taxpayers to pay $48 million worth of overdue back taxes in the middle of the worst recession in 75 years?

Pulsar was hired by the Virginia Department of Taxation (TAX) to persuade delinquent individual and corporate taxpayers to come forward and pay their back taxes during a 60-day amnesty period.


While previous tax amnesty campaigns in Virginia and other states used a somewhat threatening “Big Brother” approach in their messaging, Pulsar recommended that this campaign strike a more positive and aspirational tone. Using the idea that it feels good to know you no longer owe money to the state, Pulsar designed a comprehensive marketing, public relations, social/digital and advertising campaign based on “people with giant square smiley face heads.” The campaign showed taxpayers how happy, calm and at peace with the world they can feel if they get square on back taxes.


Pulsar created and implemented a fully integrated campaign that included:

• Television
• Radio
• Outdoor
• Print
• Public Relations
• Media Relations
• Events
• Direct Mail
• Search Engine Marketing
• Social Networking
• Social Media
• Web Banners
• Website Design & Development
• Multicultural Marketing


Pulsar and the Virginia Department of Taxation combined to collect over $103 million for Virginia state coffers – more than doubling their goal of $48 million.

“The VA Tax Amnesty campaign was one of the most successful the agency has had to date. The friendlier, lighter approach was well received and the campaign’s ‘Get Square’ theme provided strong direction and continuity. At all times, and often on very short notice, Pulsar’s creative and strategic marketing talents helped us through unfamiliar territory, and their experience with both government and private campaigns were responsible for a large part of the campaign’s success.”

— Craig Evans, Project Manager, Virginia Department of Taxation