Alongside migrating products to new systems and processes, an extensive programme of policy changes was implemented as part of transformation.
The changes made to policy and legislative settings aimed to:
- make it easier for customers to get things right and hard to get wrong
- reduce compliance effort and costs for customers
- enable businesses to focus on running their businesses with tax as a secondary consideration
- make it more difficult for people to fall into debt and easier for them to manage their payments
- boost overall levels of compliance
- support the use of digital technology.
Policy changes were aligned with when products moved to new systems and processes so the impacts on customers and businesses could be carefully managed. For example, automatic year-end income tax assessments were introduced when income tax was moved to our new system. This was the biggest change for individuals in approximately 20 years. Other significant changes to policy settings which enabled the move to automatic assessments included the move to payday filing for employers and changes to reporting requirements for payers of investment income.
Consultation on policy changes was key to helping us to shape the programme and gaining input and commitment from external stakeholders. We began the process in June 2014 with a tax conference, held in conjunction with Victoria University. The aim of the conference was to help develop a policy vision, map out the key areas for consideration, and help inform concrete policy proposals for full public consultation.
Public consultation took the form of a number of government discussion documents and officials’ issues papers released between 2015 to 2020. The first in the Making tax simpler series was a green paper released in March 2015. This sought views on whether the ideas outlined in the paper were heading in the right direction and focused on the right things, before more work was done on them. It provided an opportunity for stakeholders to help set the priorities for change and shape the way we administer the tax system.
Policy changes enabled fundamental changes such as automatic end-of-year income tax assessments for individuals to be introduced. Having a clear roadmap and ensuring it was highly visible helped to highlight the most opportune times for making policy changes.
A number of government discussion documents and officials’ issues papers were released from 2015 to 2020.
Making tax simpler – Better business tax (Officials’ issue paper April 2016)
Making tax simpler – Investment Income information (July 2016)
Making tax simpler – Proposals for modernising the Tax Administration Act (December 2016)
Making tax simpler – Better administration of individuals’ income tax (June 2017)
Making tax simpler – Better Administration of social policy (July 2017)
PAYE error correction and adjustment (Officials’ issue paper August 2017)
Unclaimed money (Officials’ issue paper January 2020)