- Inland Revenue received a generally positive report card from Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand members for 2016.
- In 2017 New Zealanders can expect major changes to how they pay tax.
- The 2017 Inland Revenue Satisfaction survey will provide a clear indication of whether IR’s transformation is on track.
By Lindsay Ng CA & Chris Cunniffe CA.
Each year, Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ) surveys its members on their experiences with New Zealand’s Inland Revenue (IR) and identifies any areas for the department to improve on.
Last year, IR received a generally positive report card, with CA ANZ members generally happier with Inland Revenue in 2016 than in the previous year.
In 2017 the challenge for IR will be maintaining rising standards of responsiveness and error-free processing while putting in place major changes to its interface with taxpayers. Changes include more digital services and streamlined processes for businesses and individuals.
These changes form part of a thorough transformation of the way New Zealanders pay their taxes.
Inevitably there will be some stress, but as the switch to the GST processing improvements in February indicated, IR can pull off huge technological changes with relatively few hiccups. For an IT project of this size, that is a remarkable feat.
More than half of New Zealand businesses file their GST returns through IR’s secure online service myIR, or direct from their accounting software.
For the GST switch in February, around 240 people from IR and other organisations worked around the clock over Waitangi weekend to install the new GST platform.
In that time, eight-and-a-half million customer records had to be verified and migrated to the new system. This represented NZ $80b of payments history and NZ$32b of disbursements.
In 2016, CA ANZ members wanted more information about IR’s Business Transformation project and how it would affect them and tax administration in general.
2016 survey offers mixed results
Members surveyed who had a “very good or excellent” experience with I R increased 2% to 39% in the 2016 survey. This was offset by a 2% increase in those who rated their experience as “fair or poor”. Members were more satisfied with most aspects of audit, with an 8% increase in members’ satisfaction with auditors’ response times. Satisfaction with auditors’ availability for questions was also up by 5%.
More than a quarter of members surveyed rated time given by IR to respond to information requests as “excellent or very good”. Members also responded postively to IR completing audits and agreeing adjustments. However, in 2016 almost double the number of members rated process as “fair or poor” than did in 2015.
Some dissatisfaction was experienced by members in relation to timeframes to meet information requests, types of information requested and auditors’ conduct during the process. More members (44%) reported that audit affected the normal running of their business, up 13%.
Many members praised the ease, consistency and accuracy of processing, with an increase of 4% as 43% of members rated consistency and accuracy of processing as “very good or excellent”.
Meanwhile, 38% of members rated error-free processing as “very good or excellent”, marking an increase of 5%.
Things IR needs to work on
Suggested improvements included more information about status (73%), faster processing (64%) and improving follow-up times.
Satisfaction with IR’s telephone service was similar in response to last year, with the overall rating scoring 72% as “excellent, very good or good”.
More than half of New Zealand businesses file their GST returns through IR’s secure online service myIR.
There was a reduction in dissatisfaction with time taken to answer queries, but an increase in dissatisfaction with the consistency of information received from different people. 60% of members surveyed believe that more experienced and/or knowledgeable staff would improve the consistency of information.
General information regarding IR’s website, tax alerts, TIBs, public rulings and other publications continued to improve, with 48% of members rating the experience as “excellent or very good”. The poor and fair responses remained consistent with the previous year’s results.
Suggested improvements related to staff improvements, technical expertise and making the IR website more user-friendly.
The results of the 2016 Inland Revenue Satisfaction survey can be viewed in full on the CA ANZ website.
What to expect in 2017
The 2017 Inland Revenue Satisfaction survey will provide a clear indication of whether IR’s transformation is on track and whether the department has successfully brought taxpayers and their agents along with it on the journey.
The annual Inland Revenue Satisfaction survey, commissioned by CA ANZ and Tax Management NZ and conducted by Colmar Brunton in October 2016, asked CAs in public practice and corporates to rate IR across four areas:
- telephone service
- obtaining general information
- tax audits.
Over the seven years it has been conducted, the survey has had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5%.
Ng CA is senior tax advocate in the CA
ANZ NZ tax team. Chris Cunniffe CA is the CEO of Tax
Management NZ, and a member of the Chartered Accountants ANZ Tax Advisory Group.