INDEPENDENT NEWS

FEC Report : Victory for all Taxpayers

Published: Wed 13 Oct 1999 12:31 AM
Media Note: Rodney Hide will hold a press conference on the FEC report at 3.00pm, 13 October at ACT's campaign office level 4, Patent House, 57 Fort Street, Auckland.
ACT Finance Spokesman Rodney Hide said today that the Finance and Expenditure Select Committee’s report into IRD's operation and culture was pleasing for taxpayers but didn’t go far enough in its recommendations.
“ACT for a long time was a lone voice in standing up for taxpayers. We were heavily criticised for highlighting IRD's abuse of powers and “bully boy” culture. We were accused of grandstanding. Now we have a Parliamentary consensus that there is a serious problem with IRD's operation and culture.
“The present Commissioner of Inland Revenue, Graham Holland, must go. A new IRD leadership team is needed to effect the culture change the FEC considers necessary. Mr Holland has worked for the IRD his entire life and has been Commissioner since 1995. The FEC report is a damning indictment of IRD's practice and culture. The sooner the IRD has fresh management – the sooner we can get the IRD back on track.
"I'm disappointed that the Committee didn’t attack the root cause of IRD's problems – that present tax law has taxpayers “guilty until they prove themselves innocent”. The reversed burden of proof is the very cause of the “we’re right, you prove us wrong” culture that infests IRD to such tragic effect.
"Only a minority of committee members recommended re-reversing the burden of proof. But the majority did recommend that IRD's power to make up assessments be limited and that Parliament’s next FEC reconsider the onus of proof as well as other IRD matters.
"The FEC's report makes many substantial and far-reaching recommendations. The key recommendations are:
-Taxpayers can finally access the information the IRD holds on them;
-Electronic "footprint" to track who in the IRD has accessed a taxpayer's file;
-"Humanising" and reducing the penalties regime;
-Time limits on the IRD's responses to taxpayers – until now the IRD's been able to drag out disputes interminably;
-Review preferential status of IRD in liquidations that is having a huge flow-on effect to other businesses;
-Establishment of a taxpayers charter outlining to taxpayers their rights and obligations in respect of the tax system.
”The disappointing thing about the FEC inquiry into the IRD was Winston Peters’ performance. He simply didn’t turn up or contribute. Committee meeting minutes confirm that Winston Peters simply wasn’t there for more than half of the time.
“The other Members of the Committee took the job seriously, heard some of what the IRD and our present laws are doing to small business and working people generally and I am hopeful that at long last Parliament is going to take responsibility for what is happening in the Inland Revenue Department.
“I am very proud to have played a good part in bringing this most powerful department of state to account on behalf of all taxpayers," said Rodney Hide.
ends

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