Do you agree Inland Revenue should provide specific assistance to enable some customers to use digital services?
Some customers cannot move to digital services
Even if high-quality digital services targeted at all kinds of customers and appropriate tax interactions are built, there will inevitably be some customers who cannot adopt them.
Reasons for this could include:
- they do not have the skills or knowledge to use digital technology;
- they do not have access to digital technology – they may be financially constrained or perhaps live in an area of New Zealand which does not have internet access.
For this group, the relevant principle is that tax compliance and access to entitlements are critical. Their ability to comply with their tax obligations and access their entitlements must remain even if the majority of other customers are carrying out those interactions through digital options.
Two approaches could be offered to customers who cannot move to digital services. Both approaches would be operated simultaneously, with different customers falling into each approach. They are:
- Offer appropriate assistance (Principle: Tax compliance and access to entitlements are critical)
Non-digital services should be available for some customers (Principle: Tax compliance and access to entitlements are critical)
What forms do you think that assistance might take?
The first approach is to provide some specific, targeted assistance to enable those customers to use digital services. Some examples of this kind of assistance could be:
- Recognition that online services require appropriate offline support – the New Zealand strategy for digital public services requires that it should be easy for people to get sufficient support when using digital options.
- Kiosks – Places where people who do not have internet access could go to use an internet-connected computer (whether provided by government or otherwise). Some specific assistance or even a digital service specifically designed for people who are not experienced internet users could even be provided.
- Assistance to develop digital capability – Inland Revenue’s officers already help customers, including small businesses, to understand their tax obligations and how to use existing digital services.
- Subsidies – For example, to support businesses adopting accounting software which integrates tax functions.
The second approach to this customer group is to acknowledge that, whatever support and assistance Inland Revenue or wider government might be able to offer, some customers will still not be able to directly use digital services. For example, a business in a remote location with no broadband internet access will not be able to use business accounting software which integrates tax obligations online even if the cost is subsidised. These customers will still need to manage their interactions with Inland Revenue through non-digital services.
This could be done by ensuring existing non-digital services are provided. However, depending on the nature of some of Inland Revenue’s system changes, retaining existing services in their current form in the future may not be possible. In these cases, some process to convert non-digital to digital information might be required. Inland Revenue could carry out this process itself, or arrange for a third party to supply it.
How long do you think that assistance should be provided for?