Jeremy Tauri: Help Inland Revenue to help you

By Jeremy Tauri

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Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

Ever dealt with the IRD and thought: This could work better?

It's likely something that has crossed many small-business owners' minds. The IRD is working on upgrading its systems, and is seeking customer input.

So far, it has asked business owners for their opinions and used crowdsourcing to generate new ideas.

IRD has appointed a panel of six people to engage with customers and small-business owners to talk about how the burden of tax compliance can be reduced.

Among the suggestions that have been presented are being able to file GST and PAYE returns from a smartphone and email alerts when tax is overdue. This seems like a sensible move. In most industries, there's been a move to things such as could based apps that enable people to work more efficiently, so it makes sense to extend that to tax compliance as well.

At the moment, it can take a long time to get things done. Wait times can be at least eight weeks for replies to income tax refunds or to fix tax matters that tax agents are dealing with.

It's only when the shoe is on the other foot, and the IRD is seeking information, that we see real haste.

Speeding things up from the consumer perspective would have to be a good thing.

The IRD has a wealth of information at its fingertips that could be of real value to the business community but at the moment it is quite "read-only". It would be great to be able to tap into their data and use it to create graphs and reports that could be used as vital business information for SME owners.

They could develop a tool that would assist in benchmarking businesses so that owners could get an idea of how they were performing compared to their industry peers. That might help business owners take action if they started to lag. That could include turnover, expenses and information such as key points from GST returns that would give back information about margins.

Instead of a yearly audit approach, the IRD could take a more nurturing, empowering role with the information it holds. Incentives to file, rather than just penalties, would also be welcome.

The department has already received 1500 responses but you can add your thoughts by emailing simpletax@ird.govt.nz

Jeremy Tauri is an associate at Plus Chartered Accountants.

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