INDEPENDENT NEWS

FEC recommendations: improvements under way

Published: Wed 13 Oct 1999 04:07 PM
FEC recommendations: improvements already under way, says Commissioner
Inland Revenue says it has already begun work in line with the recommendations of the Finance and Expenditure Committee inquiry to improve the tax system further.
The committee’s final report from its six-month investigation into the department’s powers and operations was released today.
“The inquiry came during the biggest tax reforms since the introduction of PAYE,” said Inland Revenue Commissioner Graham Holland today.
“We are removing the need for more than one million taxpayers to file IR5s, and simplifying tax laws for salary and wage earners. Earlier this year we implemented a modern world-class telephone call centre, using free 0800 numbers.
“Big improvements have also been made in child support and student loan performance, and general output performance last year was the best ever for the department.
“In the last few months we have also begun making improvements to respond to issues raised in the inquiry.
“These include investigating ways of preserving counter services where offices are being closed and greatly increasing the number of outlets where payments can be made; reviewing our complaints management procedures; improving the quality of information in letters we send to taxpayers; improving our debt collection process with a national training programme; and reviewing our audit strategy.
“Of the committee’s 30 or so recommendations, roughly half involve policy changes. Some of the balance relate to actions already taken by the department or initiatives which are now under way.
“The remaining recommendations relate to new initiatives. We will consider these very carefully to see how they can contribute to improving the department’s services further.
“Last year Inland Revenue dealt with 8.1 million tax returns and 3.5 million telephone calls. While no-one will ever enjoy paying tax, the vast majority of those contacts were satisfactory to us and to the customer.
“I believe that Inland Revenue staff continue to do an excellent job. However, as I acknowledged on the first day of the inquiry, mistakes are sometimes made. That is unacceptable, and we need to learn from it. Given the sheer number of customer contacts we have, even a small error can have quite significant consequences.
“Staff and management have worked together well to achieve continuous improvements, and will continue to do so with the benefit of this report. It is therefore disappointing to see that the committee quotes from the only submission which refers to a culture of “punishment and fear” in the department. This submission was made by the PSA during a difficult round of industrial negotiations, and is rejected.”
ENDS

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