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Using digital services

Would you move to digital services if they met your needs?

Do you think you would move to digital services for your tax interactions, if high-quality digital services which met your needs were offered?  

Digital services must be designed with the customer at the centre.  They will need to be easy to access and use, fast, secure, and reliable. A package of services which is designed for customers will need to be sufficiently flexible to keep pace with technology changes.

Customer needs and their ability to use digital services differ, both by customer type and by the interaction which they are having with Inland Revenue. The requirements that a large business has for dealing with Inland Revenue about income tax are likely to be quite different from the requirements an individual will have. In these kinds of situations, it is likely that different types of digital services will need to be developed to provide a customer-focused experience and recognise that “no one size fits all”. In some instances new services may be better provided by third parties than directly by Inland Revenue.

  • Some customers’ needs will be best met through delivery by third parties:

    • For businesses that already use computerised payroll systems, the best kind of digital service might be one delivered by the private sector. This could integrate PAYE filing into their payroll accounting software to remove the need for separate PAYE filing obligations.

    • To integrate with existing processes, Inland Revenue would need to ensure it has close and collaborative working relationships with those who develop business accounting systems, and others who deal with individuals and businesses, such as financial institutions.

  • Interactions differ, as well as customers:

    • Individuals and businesses will have different expectations of digital services. A person will have different expectations of customer-focused services, depending on the kind of tax interaction they require. Returning to the large business payroll example, direct integration with its payroll accounting system may be the best way to deal with the routine transfer of PAYE information.

    • This may not be a business’s preferred mechanism for a non-routine interaction.  For example, if the Human Resources Manager and Chief Financial Officer become aware that the company’s previous PAYE treatment of redundancy payments has been incorrect they might want to discuss this concern directly with Inland Revenue, notwithstanding that their routine PAYE is dealt with automatically through their payroll software.

Can you foresee any interactions which you would not want to carry out using digital services? What would they be?

If individuals and businesses are offered good quality, secure, customer-focused digital services for interactions appropriately carried out across digital channels (including in partnership with third parties such as business accounting software providers), the majority can be expected to move to these services in the timeframe which best fits their own personal or business needs. They would likely do this because they identify the benefits that digital services would provide, such as greater convenience, certainty or reliability.

Several facts support this view:

  • The ability of New Zealand individuals and businesses to use digital solutions is relatively high. For example, New Zealand businesses already lead the world in the adoption of cloud-based services.
  • Despite the constraints of aging technology, Inland Revenue’s ability to deliver quality digital services is recognised.
  • Uptake of Inland Revenue’s digital services has, to date, been strong. For example, the online service for individuals, myIR, has 1.7 million active registered customers. In December 2014, 86% of payments to Inland Revenue were made through electronic channels.

Comments

michele hunt
as pointed out in another question, the system must also function with Apple computers as this lack of compatibility is what stopped me using the online service - i.e. problems downloading files in a readable format and which could not be idd by IRD

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1 year ago
Juergen Brendel
As I commented at another place: These digital services should be delivered via a simple web-app. That way, they are accessible to everyone: Windows, Apple, Linux, desktops or smartphones. Those web-apps should not use Flash or other proprietary technology that is not available to everyone. Likewise, they should not insist on users having to upload files in proprietary formats, such as Word or Excel spreadsheets. Not every can or wants to use that software. A simple, mobile-friendly web-app will serve everyone.

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1 year ago
George Spark
If the quality of the services was good, would definitely use them (am already using what is available now). I don't really care if the data would go through third-party channels. However as mentioned in my other comment, the security of the data would be paramount. For example, an IRD call centre consultant should never be able to see all my tax data if I called only about GST, for example. The data should be segregated on a "need to know" basis. All IRD staff with access to tax data should be background checked regularly, and smart systems should monitor data access from within and outside IRD to recognise potential abuse patterns (staff or outsiders querying or attempting to query unusual amounts or types of data). Data security and endpoint security should be paramount - old-fashioned Anti-Virus software like Symantec or Trend Micro or whatever used to be used is broken and the latest global standards should be implemented in multiple layers (Bit9, Bromium and similar for example), combined with world-class security consulting. Whilst details would need to be kept secret for security reasons, somehow the public would need to be reassured that the system has leading-edge security, data segregation, processes and monitoring in place. About the second question: I think we are moving towards full digital services, and in the end all or most interaction would be digital. However one key item for me would be the ability to make changes for some time. For example if I submit a monthly tax return of some electronic kind based on actual income, and if there's an oversight or error, I should be able to go back in and change it the next month or even a few months later. This should be automated too. The system should then automatically recalculate and adjust the current month's "return" (or whatever such a monthly tax filing would be called). Ideally, the system should completely do away with the tax year, and become fully real-time, but with the ability to make changes for errors or adjustments, which would then automatically flow through to the current month's total. Everything should be browser-based so it can be done from any platform (Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, etc.).

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1 year ago
vaughan
Make use of the private sector that already write tax software (i.e Xero, MYOB etc). Let them do the coalface stuff and the IRD system justs picks up the back end. No need to replicate systems

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1 year ago
Martin
I agree re private sector doing development however the interface must be open and published so that any third party provider can develop an application to communicate digitally with the IRD system. It would also be beneficial if there a standard was created that described the minimum requirements for software. I would also like to see IRD negotiate the development of a simple open source application that is provided FREE to anyone that wants it. This just needs to provide the minimum functionality and if a user wants more then they can pay for a commercial product, however being open source will enable other organisations to build upon the original application as well as making it easier for other parties to integrate with the IRD system

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1 year ago
Nevan Lancaster
Yes exactly. They could offer their own small business suite which could do exactly what Xero does already for free. This would save the small business owner a lot of time and money that they waste on Accountants and software plus allowing more efficient payment of taxes owed and refunds due. There would also be no need for estimates and tax could be collected in a timely manner.

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1 year ago
Dwayne
A comprehensive system interface is the first step to enable all this interaction with IRD. However the free open source software needs to provide a bit more than just the basics to be useful, and needs to be reliable and intuitive. Quite a challenge! GnuCash is not up there yet, doesn't even even have an inventory management feature...

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1 year ago
L Gaugau
200% Already globally connected ... quicker response time ... real time transactions ... real time financial forecasting Moving KPI Analytics to the next level ... Go DIGI-Biz!

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1 year ago
Glynn Babington
Please sort out the links on your site so you can find what you need to without a tax accountant degree. Also using the PAYE calculator is great but why not save the results from it so when filling in returns it does not have to be done over yet again. I find the IRD site the worst website ever, the good news to that is hopefully improvement will be the only option!

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1 year ago
Craig Utting
Hell no. I can't work out how to logon with the current service. Hate cellphones, they don't have buttons now. Still mail in my GST returns and would like to keep it that way.

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1 year ago
Peter Quigley
I have been paying my provisional tax online as I earn for a number of years now and it has worked for me, I normally get a tax refund, some others would state that you lose interest from the banks this way but being a small business it would not be a great deal anyhow and it gives me peace of mind and in a way a compulsory saving

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1 year ago
Cari Hill
I 100% agree that the whole IRD website and the way we interact with IRD needs to change. I filed my first return without an accountant the other day because I was told it was really easy to do online, especially considering I'm a small business with only one employee. It was anything but easy. It took multiple calls to Inland Revenue and therefore alot of time spent on hold. It took a huge amount of reading and searching for answers on their website and trying to figure out in plain language what everything meant. Once I had filed my IR4 return I was told the tax amount owing but nowhere did it give me the option to pay now or even tell me if I was required to pay that amount or if I was to wait for validation from the IRD or even when the amount was due- another phone call was made. Once I was told I could pay them the amount if I had the money ready, I did just that via internet transfer- on the same day I filed the return. About a week later however I received a letter in the mail saying that amount was outstanding, they had obviously sent the statement before my payment had been processed. If I had of paid online within the IRD portal it would have connected the payment to my statement instantaneously. I have no way of knowing if they have received my payment unless I call them yet again or wait for my next statement and I don't know when that is due. The statement also charged me interest charges from not paying provisional tax last year - something I would have included in the tax payment had I been told online that I needed to pay that also. I find the whole system extremely outdated. It needs to be simpler, in plainer language so that non-accountants can understand it, and there needs to be an online portal where you can log in and check how much you owe, what payments you've made in the past, make payments and manage everything within the portal including interest charges. There should also be an app so you can view and manage this from your mobile. They should tell you exactly what forms to fill out i.e. I didn't realise I had to fill out both an IR4 for my contracting services as well as an IR3 personal return, and they should do away with paper statements and interest charges which arise from delays in your receiving your statement in the post.

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1 year ago
Peter Fitzsimons
I would not like to have our accounting programme directly connected to IRD. We use an older version of MYOB which is much faster and more reliable than the new trial version. I would hate to have to change just to comply with an interface. The ideal system is as per current PAYE, where systems export text files for uploading. These can be manually edited if required before sending

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1 year ago
Kay Braid
Currently do everything on an excel spreadsheet. Don't have a need for digital down load..happy with current on line filling out of forms

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1 year ago
Chris Peace
I would use digital services if they allowed Xerox (my online software to file reports direct with IRD. BUT: the system would have to be well-tested before going live. Electronic filing for PAYE and Kiwisaver has proved to be difficult to use so I've resorted to using paper. The system would also need to take account of variable business income in an SME like mine that can result in variable salaries. The variable income might then cause difficulties with company income tax: one really good month may mean I can bridge two or three lean months. Paying company tax on the good month could lead to overpayment inn subsequent months. The system would need to allow for some judgement of future income by an SME operator.

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1 year ago
Ian Phillips
I can see a lot of extra expense in upgrading accounting systems (where you do your accounts yourself) or additional accounting fees (where your accountant has to file 'PAYE' type tax calculations) with any move to this change in calculating provisional tax. Sure the current system could be improved, especially for growing businesses, but we already have the option to pay additional tax payments with GST, so why change anything.

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1 year ago
Steve Bromley
I mainly use the Digital Services for my IR345 Employer Monthly Schedule, which will ok is a bit clunky, would be great if you could use your keys to work through each employee rather than having to use the mouse to switch between each individual. A report from Payroll that could be copied over would be the Ultimate. Steve B

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1 year ago
Steve Bromley
Use the existing Companies that specialise in Payroll etc, Xero, MYOB, preferably our New Zealand Govt would get New Zealand Companies to do this, not like the Novapay disaster.

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1 year ago
Katie
I have to use so many different systems for various purposes: Xero for business accounting, Onelaw for trust accounting, Microsoft365 on a Mac to integrate with clients' documents, and various other apps etc to make it all work together. Any proposed digital solution would ideally integrate with existing systems (Xero please, if we can make requests!) and not be an extra separate system.

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1 year ago
Lisa Taylor
There are some good points raised here about the quality of the web programming that would be required to make this successful. I'd like to add that usability testing also needs to be done on digital communications. IRD does a decent job with this at the present, but there is room for improvement. Digital communications, web interface, etc should be tested on non-IRD employees (and their web designers), non-accountants and those of various demographics -- including those those first language is not English.

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1 year ago
June Wilson
First provide reasonably priced and reliable internet to ALL of us. Doing things over the internet is a long and frustrating process when you have a download speed of around 100 kb/sec, have several short breaks in the service every day, and pay $200/month for 5GB of data. To have to do our accounts on the internet would be very difficult. It is also very frustrating when various handbooks (e.g. How to deal with RWT) are no longer being supplied in printed form and being told by IRD to read/print it from the internet when you can't stay connected long enough for it to download. There must be a paper option in place for those of us who don't have good internet service (and no mobile phone coverage either).

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1 year ago
Martin
June, I can feel your frustration but I do not think that preventing the simplification of processes for the majority of users should be delayed until everyone has reliable internet connections. There will always be users that too expensive to provide a reliable service to and as a tax payer I am not inclined to sponsor fiber to those that are based in isolated areas. However there are technical options that could be investigated that would enable you to interact with IRD even with an unreliable internet connection, for example, having off-line forms that can be completed (with or without a current internet connection) and then submitted once a connection is available.

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1 year ago
Mike
I live in Christchurch and the internet service where I live is crap. Internet connection is an issue and any advances solution cannot be based made on the premise that everyone has a reliable internet connection. Any changes will need solutions for those who have no internet or where the intent is unreliable or slow.

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1 year ago
Juergen Brendel
One reason the Internet can be a frustrating experience is that many sites use unnecessary large graphics or plugins that download megabytes of data, just to show the home page. This is completely unnecessary. A well designed site can be not only functional, but also very snappy, even over low-bandwidth links. Whatever digital system the IRD puts in place: It should adhere to good design principles. It's not rocket science to produce a web-site that works across computer platforms, on the desktop and on mobile, and which loads quickly.

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1 year ago
terrance
Let's get up to date with the rest of the world, make it user friendly- it's not rocket science there are plenty of kiwi tech companies that can assist, let's get on with it😃

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1 year ago
Qayyum Johar
i am very much satisfied with the IRD's current Digital filing system, i am also suggest to keep up manual, paper filing system as well for those who don't know how to use computers or mobile, digital technologies. My Great Prayers and Best Wishes for Our Pride IRD's Future Success. Warmest Regards

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1 year ago
Jo
Would love to do this digitally but couldn't justify the expense of a product like Xero - for my business, as I do more than 5 invoices a month (some are as small as $25), to use Xero would cost me $600 a year which is not feasible for a small sole trader business like mine... there would have to be some sort of subsidy from IRD to make this work for me....

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1 year ago
Niki
Yes of course I would move to digital services. My PAYE is already done for me by a third party, and all my payroll admin, and the company/software that does is free! The only cost is that I pay the PAYE with each pay cycle but I'm very happy to do this. It helps my cash flow not worrying about a potential large PAYE bill every two months.

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1 year ago
Laurence Simpson
If information was well protected and I was able to use the system to minimize my reliance on Tax agents for day to day stuff would help compliance costs as at the moment I use MYOB but have no choice but to deal with a agent to ensure Tax tax is paid.

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1 year ago
Carsten Schousboe
Yes. A move to digital services is definitely the way to go. Currently I use digital services to do everything except pay IRD. The digital services effectively give me a GST return, but there is no button marked "submit to IRD" or "submit and pay". Surely this is an achievable outcome even with minimal changes at IRD. Currently I rack up a cost from the accountant to mail me a form, I then copy the numbers over and post. I agree with previous posts about then need to manage the people who don't go digital. But I'm sure you can manage.

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1 year ago
Jeremy
There are many quick wins the IRD could obtain. For example: - email distribution of PDF documents rather than the volume of paper still received - filing returns online through a web browser - the ability to file returns by sending PDF documents to an IRD return filing email address - etc

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1 year ago
maygray
Only if I could trust that the right controls were in place to enable me to have a simple user-friendly process for holding the tax department to account for misuse of power, privacy or data protection violations or other problem. To build trust you need controls. You don't address this and therefore you are failing to look at the most important part of this consultation process.

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1 year ago
Mary-Anne Lindsay
The digital service will have to be as totally secure as one can make it. Also the the quality of broadband would have to improve markedly in the rural areas with much higher rates of data flow than we can currently experience. That includes those areas that have ADSL (ours is slow at the best of times and cannot get VSDL even though we are only 30 minutes from a major population base). This includes our area that has been subject to the Rural Broadband Upgrade Initiative. Also the amount of times our broad band reception "breaks down" can result in any Government strategies in the area of digital and IT being compromised on it quality of services, especially in time delays and possibly security concerns.

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1 year ago
Catherine Orr
I am all for digital services, but the "future state" model where all transactions are carried out via accounting software wouldn't be a reality for my current situation. I use MYOB but the software does not integrate with my bank and would not be able to be a digital platform without additional monthly cost to me. I have looked at software with that capability but the monthly cost does not make sense for me as my business is small with few transactions and invoices.

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1 year ago
Kim Spencer-McDonald
Hi, Thanks for giving the opportunity to comment. I have to be honest, initially I didn't even see this link and thought the only place or way to comment was by Twitter. Please make things easier to follow. I know that IRD's push is to go online (have heard this said by an area manager in person) but not all of us want to do everything online. Also, where we live, the internet connection is so inconsistent that I can't always get online. When I try and get my PAYE calculations online sometimes it is near on impossible to get them or I have to go on before 6am in the morning. Please please remember that we all don't live in towns with access to fast broadband and that some of us actually like to have paper worksheets. Just so you know I'm in my 40's and happily take up technology but it doesn't have to be with everything. Please give us choices.

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1 year ago
Yoshi Ichinose
It is clear that the digital services has great advantages but the systems the IRD is currently using are not always smooth nor easy to understand. I am not a advanced digital program user, if you make changes please make it very easy to use and quick to finish the task each time. At the moment I can finish paye and gst returns by using all the paper records and forms faster than on line( I have switched to the digital though, but still taking more time than the old methods). regards.

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1 year ago
Ian Meyle
I would never trust the IRD with access to my accounting software. Perhaps if the IRD published a data interchange mechanism (as accountants have) so that my accounting software can automatically generate returns. In any event the user must absolute control over when and what is submitted to the IRD. The IRD should be looking at getting the existing systems properly on-line. For instance I still need a DLN number from a paper form to fill in the on-line FBT. I operate effectively as a sole trader and I work for long spells out of NZ. I don't have access to my paper mail in NZ but the IRD does not support e-mail alerts or communication (other than their hopeless secure e-mail that logs you out if you take too long writing an e-mail and a reply is seldom received within 2 weeks).

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1 year ago
Suse Reynolds
Just wanted to say I fully support the IRD implementing a software solution to filing GST returns. I must be one of thousands who use Xero and it's just such a faff to have that "beautiful software" calculate my GST but then have to load it manually again to file with the IRD. Go for it... !!!

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1 year ago
Ed Lusty
I have a small business and do not get any benefit from third part accounting software. I would not use digital services if I was compelled to use third part software.

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1 year ago
Debra Knox
The concept of linking digitally with IRD has merits for some businesses/business owners and would be a good option. It should however always be OPTIONAL. As long as I meet annual compliance requirements it should remain my choice as to which accounting system I use and my choice as to how I communicate this information together with Provisional details to IRD. To link digitally would not save me time or money however I can think of some business owners where it would take compliance headaches away for them.

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1 year ago
AB
The more services that are digital the better. Completing my tax requirements is ten fold better than it used to be BUT the current system is not intuitive. You have to be quite well schooled in online navigation and know a little bit about the underlying process behind each tax event - it needs to be much more intuitive. Test it on teenagers! They'll soon tell you!

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1 year ago
Nick Tolmay
I think it would be good if the GST and PAYE system could be changed so that these were done automatically and there would be no need for companies to have to worry about having to do their returns and payments on set dates thus avoiding penalties and interest and companies using GST & PAYE when cash flow is tight . PAYE should be paid to the IRD when employees are paid and payroll systems should link into the IRD website so it can be done automatically. GST should be paid monthly and accounting systems should link into the IRD website so this can be achieved. It may be worth considering changing the entire GST system where you have a registered operators system similar to what Rhodesia instituted many years ago.

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1 year ago
Megan
I would use digital services as they became available and would support being able to do more online and having to speak directly to representatives less, but if the IRD is intending on putting time and money into this could they also revise their rules around calls from mobile phones and callbacks to mobile phones? Rather than being able to leave my number for a call back I have to remain on hold because I don't have a landline - I also don't have the option of calling the 0800 number. I'm a sole trader and my clients get in touch with me exclusively over a mobile - I haven't had a land line since 2009.

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1 year ago
Jayne Foster
I would use an APP that the IRD develop in consultation with 3rd party web services, that could automatically be linked to 3rd party web-based services, i.e accounting and online storage services, banks. The App could allow tax to be calculated as money/income was earned and due to be owed to IRD. This information could be embedded within a 3rd party web-based service or feed to the IRD. All exemptions (also calculated as part of the APP) could be shown in realtime so you could always see what tax to set aside, and have a true running total of tax owed. Exemptions would be officially applied at the end of the financial year and the total tax payable would be automatically filed with the IRD.

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1 year ago
Jon
I'm an ex IT Consultant working in the City of London - most recently for a Japanese Bank. I'm long time retired and now resident in NZ. Until recently I have always used an accountant - but last year my wife and I figured the excessive cost of an "expert" had got to the point where we should be doing it ourselves. After all - how difficult can it be. Well, living on retirement income derived from the UK means Provisional Tax payments and Interest Rate calculations. Last year we did it all ourselves by paper and everything worked OK. Took time and a little stress - but got there in the end with no real trouble. This time the attempt will be to do it all online and the web portal gives the impression that it should be easy. To date though I can't say one way or another. I can see all my previous payments - but no detail on the amount already stipulated by IRD as my next Provisional Payment. I can see when it's due - but not how much. Fortunately everything I need is paper filed. Next there is this years IR3 to complete - in doing so I need the End of Month Interest Rate detail. I can download it and print it off. But it's a password protected PDF so I cannot lift the detail I need straight into a spreadsheet to do the calculations. I have to do it by hand. It's only a few minutes - but which method is safer? Putting my old IT hat on - it seems to me that the IRD portal was excellent and innovative and got people access to their tax in a way that had never been done before. And there are issues - and mine are I suspect pretty insignificant compared to some others. And I feel a lot happier with what I do now as compared to what went on before. IE no more trips to the accountant etc etc. So positive so far - just not 100% Taking a wider view, I suspect the the real issue that IRD have to wrestle with is not whether to upgrade the "customer experience" or not. The answer is clearly yes. A more important conversation internally will be whether the current software and hardware platform that the IRD system sits on needs to be upgraded, or replaced either in part, or (horror of horrors)replaced in total. One last observation. As you get older the learning process gets harder. Not everyone has a PC even now. Nor does everyone see web based manipulations the same way. We don't even all use the same language, and even when we do the results are often not productive. Even the devices we use have different inherent characteristics - some obvious - some much more subtle. The pace of change increases in IT terms in much the same way as it does in life. Not too far into the future there will be serious discussions within IRD (and elsewhere) as to whether a voice activated tax portal should be made available. It's probably already happening. And for each step forward there is a real risk that an increasing number of "customers" get left behind. By all means make financial and technical necessity the main drivers for change - ease of use - operating cost reductions - you can hear all the "buzz phrases". All fine and dandy! But ensure that inherent within any change, safeguards are included that prevent anyone in our society either directly or indirectly being driven into the arms of cut-price or inappropriate accounting advice - or loan sharks - or worse!

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1 year ago
Annie Hill
I think you need to treat the 'yes' vote with care. By and large, the only people likely to be completing this questionnaire are people who are happy working at a computer in the first place. Even though many people have email, a large number of them will simply delete the 'Scrap provisional tax estimations?' email from their Inbox, a few more will read it, but only a minority will even click on the link. Moreover, the majority of people who are clicking on the link and joining in are probably pro-digital, too.

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1 year ago
Douglas King
I live overseas and last year I had to pay Provisional Tax. I completed my Tax Return on-line before the deadline but I didn't receive my Assessment from IRD until well after the 1st Payment was due. I immediately remitted the funds to IRD once I received the Tax Assessment although it was past due date and presumably I will receive an interest penalty for the late payment. IRD has my email address so in this day and age why couldn't they have sent the Tax Assessment by email to ensure that I could make my Tax Payment on time???, This seems a no-brainer to me!! My electricity provider can do it, so why can't IRD??

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1 year ago
Murray Friar
I am stull using annually updated versions of the MS Excel 'Cashbook' IRD provided several years ago. MS Excel may provide a easy to use, commonly available portal through which the IRD system may be linked to the many types of accounting systems available.

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1 year ago
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