Listening to NZ business - getting it right from the start
Understanding what New Zealand businesses need to thrive is a key element of Inland Revenue’s customer-centred change programme.
One of the Government’s top four priorities is Better Public Services: Inland Revenue is helping realise this goal by making tax simpler and more certain, helping make it easier to do business in New Zealand. Inland Revenue is designing new digital services that will fit with how businesses operate now and in future, and it’s learning from customers all the way.
Inland Revenue provides a range of ways to contribute views about improving tax processes: from formal consultation, stakeholder panels and reference groups, to regular surveys of business and direct feedback to staff.
Shaping the future tax system
Government consultation about better administration of PAYE and GST and proposed changes to the Tax Administration Act closed in February 2016, with more than 1000 comments and submissions received.
As transformation develops, the Tax Simplification Panel’s “Future Tax” website encourages idea-sharing and engagement from the wider community, while the Commissioner’s Transformation Reference Group and ICT Reference Group bring strong business and IT networks and their perspectives to Inland Revenue’s transformation programme.
Inland Revenue regularly listens to customers through its community business teams, relationships with major industry groups and extensive customer research. In 2014 the department piloted a new approach with Hawkes Bay businesses.
Saving business time
Using targeted local advertising on bus shelters, websites and local papers, the department asked businesses to vote on six improvements that would save their time and make it easier to deal with Inland Revenue.
Hawkes Bay businesses responded with hundreds of votes and many helpful suggestions. Their top three picks were a faster way to search the Inland Revenue website, receiving email alerts for overdue tax returns, and making it faster to file online.
80% asked for a faster web search. In response Inland Revenue has improved its web search, navigation and content. Information is now much faster and easier to find, with commonly-asked questions answered immediately.
It’s also easier to understand – for instance 55 pages on property and tax obligations are trimmed down to an essential 15. Business and tax agent guides are written in plain English and refreshed regularly.
The website is also ‘responsive’ (adjusts to the right size on devices such as tablets and phones) – something else businesses on the go need.
78% of businesses asked for email alerts for overdue tax returns. Alerts are now being sent to registered customers when their GST is due, with reminder ‘e-doc’ follow-ups when necessary.
A current trial with Xero and MYOB customers to file GST returns direct to Inland Revenue through accounting software is expected to expand later this year making it easier to file GST and other returns digitally for many more businesses in future.
Inland Revenue is continuing to improve more services to help business get it right, as it responds to what customers need. The department will explore further ways of hearing from all New Zealanders about tax system improvements throughout 2016.