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2010

Software developers news - March 2010

Current Inland Revenue contacts

Technical issues
payroll.developers@ird.govt.nz

Technical issues escalation
sue.potts@ird.govt.nz

Strategic and escalation issues
dave.gillespie@ird.govt.nz

EMS project feedback
emsbusoptproject@ird.govt.nz

Consultation
sdlu@ird.govt.nz

What's new?

Registrations open for June 2010 conference

If you haven't already done so, don't forget to register for the SDLU Software Developers conference to be held in Wellington on:

  • Thursday 10 June 2010 for software developers, and
  • Friday 11 June 2010 for E-File developers.

The Minister of Revenue Peter Dunne is confirmed as our opening speaker on the 10th of June. For those unable to attend this session, his speech will be recorded and replayed at the E-File session the next day.

Register now - registrations close on 2 June 2010.

EMS Business Optimisation update

Software Developer Liaison Unit (SDLU)

Now the seasonal challenges of end-March/early-April are behind us, we're taking stock and looking forward to planning the conference. We're also in the final stages of recruiting and moving the SDLU unit to a permanent home within Inland Revenue. Ongoing work revolves around internal changes that will help you by improving our services and providing new tools and products.

It was great to meet some of you at the CaseBook consultation workshop we ran in Christchurch last month. The workshop generated a lot of good ideas and we intend to hold other forums in the future.

At our June conference we'll be asking software developers to put themselves forward for consultation. If you're unable to attend the conference you're welcome to contact SDLU anytime to offer your input.

Turned off - the printed IR 345

As at the beginning of April 2010 we implemented system changes to suppress the paper IR 345s sent to employers who are, and have been, electronically filing their EMS and EDF. These system changes reduced the number of paper IR 345s Inland Revenue sent out by about 30,000 each month.

We're making other changes to our processes that will see a reduction of 10,000 letters per month, which will be good news for businesses who tell us less is more when it comes to letters from Inland Revenue.

Your identifier code

A field to identify your payroll software package and version number has been included on the ir-File electronic EMS from the beginning of April 2010.

We've started receiving these identifiers and would still like to know how payroll software developers are populating this field. If you've not already done so, we'd appreciate it if you could email your identifiers to us at sdlu@ird.govt.nz so we can connect you with the data we're receiving.

Test CaseBook

As mentioned in the last issue, we're planning to distribute a set of test scenarios to accompany the release of the payroll specification.

We expect to release the initial CaseBook of test scenarios to developers by the end of June 2010. It will be based on the current payroll specification "payroll-spec-2011-v3.pdf" but will be able to incorporate future changes when the payroll specification is updated.

We've consulted with interested payroll software developers through individual meetings and a workshop in Christchurch. The feedback we received has been extremely useful in refining the draft CaseBook, as this tool needs to work for you.

The draft CaseBook will be presented at the SDLU conference in June and we'll be keen to gain feedback from the wider payroll group. This tool will be a "live" document that changes according to your needs, amended legislation or where the existing documentation needs practical examples to help clarify the correct answers.

If you require any further details please contact Andrew Smith on (04) 978 9889 or email your suggestions, comments or suggested scenarios to sdlu@ird.govt.nz

Help desk

Staff changes

There have been some staffing changes in the payroll and E-File areas that you may like to know about.

Payroll desk

Many of you would have had contact with Jayne Wylde who has left the team to take up a new role within Inland Revenue as an IT business analyst. Kim Robinson joined the team in April and has been working with Jayne to ensure an effective transition. He has worked on the desk previously so has experience in this area.

E-File desk

Raewyn Jackson has joined the E-File team and will help Saimoni Daugunu and Evelyn Wright answer your E-File queries.

Technical issues escalation

Martin Fellows has been seconded to manage a development team with Inland Revenue. In the meantime, please forward any technical escalation issues to Sue Potts at sue.potts@ird.govt.nz, who is now managing the service desk teams.

Final filing date for tax agents - 31 March 2010

This day is always a busy time for us and a stress day for our systems - to illustrate, we received 62,236 E-File returns on that day. The E-File helpdesk phones were open from 8.00 am until 8.00 pm and 108 phone calls and 18 emails were answered. The team, Evelyn, Saimoni and Raewyn worked hard to provide a good service over this period, with the number of outstanding queries falling at the end of March 2010.

Around 4.30 pm there was an outage due to E-File overload, but we were able to have the system back up within an hour. This was an improvement on previous years' system performance, but we do apologise for any inconvenience caused.

Update of service desk statistics

February and March 2010 were again busy months for Service Support, with the volumes of queries being received and answered still showing an increasing trend from previous years.

System Month 2010 Brought forward
- on hand
New incidents Closed incidents Carried forward
- on hand

E-File

February

30

376

368

38

March

38

609

627

20

Payroll

February

22

115

116

21

March

21

84

97

8

Answers to action points from November 2009 conference

7. Web-based payroll query forms: Can attachments such as word documents or spreadsheets be submitted with the Payroll Query?

This will be investigated when the web form for support queries is designed.

14. What test mechanism prior to 1 March 2010 can be made available for software developers?

Unfortunately we were unable to provide any additional test mechanisms this year. We're currently reviewing the delivery dates of tools and products for software developers and plan in the future to align these to better serve your needs. More detail will be available at the June 2010 conference.

E-File related points

17. What date will the test environment be available for testing of the E-File Client Registration changes?

We'll advise as soon as the date is finalised. At this point we expect it to be late June/early July 2010.

20. Can the returns development cycle be moved forward so that E-File releases can occur in early October to allow for early balance dates instead of the current late February or early March release cycle?

Unfortunately this is not possible due to end-to-end processes within Inland Revenue. Possibilities for change will be investigated for future years.

21. Are there rules for how the E-File Notice of Assessment information can be used by agents?

For the Notice of Assessment information transmitted from E-File to a tax agent's software, there are no restrictions on how the data is used inside the software. For example, it's acceptable to use the data to update an internal ledger and replicate processes associated with the current paper Notice of Assessment.

Inland Revenue's only requirement is that the tax agent has the ability to print the Notice of Assessment using the data provided.

22. Can Inland Revenue perform a review of all E-File internal edits to investigate which edits can be placed in the front-end applications by developers to reduce the number of cases going to Assessment Review for manual action?

Inland Revenue presently does this on a regular basis and provides error statistics to E-File software developers. We'll discuss this further with E-File software developers at the June 2010 conference.

Legislative and policy update

Legislative update

The Taxation (Annual Rates, Trans-Tasman Savings Portability, KiwiSaver, and Remedial Matters) Bill introduced in November 2009 is progressing through the legislative process and is scheduled for enactment in June 2010.

Two Bills are planned for introduction in July 2010, these are the:

  • Taxation (GST and Remedial Matters) Bill 2010
  • Taxation (Tax Credits Income) Bill 2010, which proposes legislative changes to enable couples with a dependent child to each be taxed on half of their combined income.

The Student Loan Scheme Bill 2010 is planned for introduction in the second half of 2010. This Bill is a rewrite of the 1992 Act and proposes the following policy changes:

  • The end-of-year square-up for student loan borrowers will cease and pay-period deductions will be treated as full and final, except for significant employer error.
  • Deductions will also be assessed on a pay-period basis, whereas previously they have been assessed with reference to a borrower's yearly earnings. Many of the penalties for non-compliant borrowers will be reduced, while more serious cases of non-compliance will be subject to penalties under the Tax Administration Act 1994.
  • In addition, Inland Revenue's service to borrowers will be primarily web-based, which will significantly reduce the number of letters that the department sends out, and will also improve service, particularly to overseas-based borrowers.

Consultation

An officials' issues paper, Extending the active income exemption to non-portfolio FIFs., was released on 19 March 2010. The paper seeks feedback on suggested changes to the tax treatment of non-portfolio foreign investment funds with changes intended to make the rules easier and more coherent. Submissions closed on 30 April 2010.

An issues paper, Allowing a zero percent tax rate for non-residents investing in a PIE , was released on 14 April 2010. The paper seeks views on two possible options for exempting non-residents investing in PIEs. Submissions close on 4 June 2010.

Further consultation is planned in June 2010 on gift duty and the disputes process.

Find out what's happening in the policy and legislative areas of Inland Revenue and add your voice to the public consultation process by registering for automatic updates:

Transforming Inland Revenue

New Deputy Commissioner for Business Transformation

The importance of Inland Revenue's long-term business transformation has been underlined by the Commissioner's appointment of a Deputy Commissioner for Business Transformation. Peter Mersi, formerly from Treasury, heads the new Business Transformation group which incorporates major transformation programmes including Transform IR. The Business Transformation group will ensure Inland Revenue has the capabilities to deliver major changes to customer services, business processes and systems that will make compliance easier and less costly for customers, and ensure Inland Revenue can respond flexibly to future changes.

Current priorities for business transformation include simplifying how Inland Revenue works with customers, streamlining PAYE, exploring B2B channels, strengthening IT to support future demands, and providing more integrated online options.

Peter Mersi is taking a measured approach. "We have to be realistic about what can be achieved within certain timeframes. While we are focused on business transformation we have to work within available funding, resources and legislative requirements, and deal with competing pressures and expectations. Transformation is a staged approach over several years", he says.

Simplifying Customer Interactions

Our December 2009 newsletter outlined early steps in the Simplifying Customer Interactions programme, which aims to streamline PAYE and EMS processes, increase electronic uptake, provide faster, more efficient online services and cut back on paperwork.

The Minister of Revenue has said he expects to consult with New Zealanders about the way people will interact with the tax system in the future. It's likely the Minister will invite comment through a public online forum and a discussion document, expected to be released in the second half of this year.

We'll let you know on our website and in our newsletters when the consultation and online forum are open, and send details and a link to all software developers registered with us for consultation.

Software developers will be key partners in creating any future software solutions. We hope to have further information at the SDLU conference in June.

Improvements and consultations

E-File update

Payment and credit transfers

Payment and credit transfer request functionality was successfully implemented on 1 February 2010, as scheduled. Extremely positive feedback from tax agents has been reported by Agent Account Managers.

All Inland Revenue call centre staff have been advised that the tax agent's training demo is available on our website. Our Community Relationship staff are also aware of the demo and an article was published in the February 2010 edition of Agent Answers letting tax agents know.

Client updates via E-File

Development work has begun in this area and it will enter system and integration testing late June 2010. The E-File functional specification will be released at the end of May. The new functionality is planned to be implemented towards the end of August 2010.

Parallel work will update our internal knowledge bases plus internal and external communications and support materials.

Reducing paper notices to tax agents

From 1 July 2010 we'll be introducing electronic Notices of Assessment for E-File tax agents that will replace the paper versions.

The test data has been made available for developers to start their requirements and plan for release.

It's important that developers make this change so their customers will continue to receive assessment notifications.

If you have any questions please contact efile.team@ird.govt.nz

Information from other government departments

New employment relations and health and safety resources

The Department of Labour has produced two new resources to assist businesses.

The Big 6 is a series of brochures that contain checklists and links to further information which businesses commonly seek: health and safety; hiring new employees; pay; holidays and leave; managing performance; and ending employment relationships.

Find out more about the Big 6.

The Code of Employment Practice on Infant Feeding was developed to assist employers and employees provide unpaid breaks (in addition to rest and meal breaks) and appropriate facilities for women who wish to breastfeed their babies during a work period.

Find out more about the code.

What's next?

What you can expect to see next from us:

  • regular newsletters to inform and update your on what's happening
  • invitations to consult with us relating to specific projects and products.

Your thoughts?

The SDLU values your feedback and we're working to tailor this newsletter to your needs as well as our own. We welcome your ongoing feedback, so please contact us at sdlu@ird.govt.nz

Delys Willans and Paul Weston
Establishment Manager
Software Development Liaison Unit
Inland Revenue

Footnote:
The Software Developers News may comment generally on topical tax, policy or technical issues relevant to software developers. Every attempt is made to ensure the law is correctly interpreted, but articles are intended as a brief overview only. Any examples provided are not intended to cover every possible factual situation.

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Date published: 14 Apr 2010

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