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Tax agents help Inland Revenue improve online services for GST

Tax agents have been brought on board to help Inland Revenue refine the new GST online services.

“Feedback has been translated directly into action points that are being prioritised for future improvements,” says Greg James, Deputy Commissioner for Transformation.

“A suite of changes, all suggested by tax agents, have come on stream in the last month including better client maintenance functions and an improved system for the sending of notifications and alerts.

“Further improvements are on the way, which will give agents a greater overview of their client’s data and an ability to track transactions with Inland Revenue more effectively.”

Earlier this year GST became the first tax type to be transformed as part of the multi-year programme to modernise the way taxes are administered.

Over 1.3 million GST returns have now been processed in the new system and more than $3 billion was collected in the first month after going live.

Tax agents are working at the frontline of this transformation and are logging into the online portal every day on behalf of their clients.

“These are the people testing the true capabilities of the system every day,” Mr James says, “so it’s important to know what they’re thinking and to get them involved in making some improvements.”

Recently Inland Revenue ran some focus groups with Hamilton-based tax agents who provided valuable feedback on aspects of the new system that are causing them extra work and some frustration.

“These sessions have been hugely beneficial. We want to be responsive, find out the biggest challenges and overcome them.”

Mr James says the GST rollout works really well for simple and straightforward transactions but some tax agents have had a bit of difficulty working across the new and the old system for clients whose situations are more complicated.

Inland Revenue is currently hosting up to 50 tax agents a month in user labs and will soon run crowd testing, which will help gather more information to inform GST improvements and for future stages of the business transformation.

In addition, a secondment programme is underway where a group of practising tax agents will come to work inside Inland Revenue for three months to directly help develop the tax services they will be using when back on the other side of the fence.