In February this year, the Prime Minister said tax policy was being held back because the computer systems “can’t actually support radical changes from Government.” The Prime Minister’s comments over nine months ago indicated the urgent need to outline a credible plan and timeline for the necessary system upgrade.
Since then, there is no progress to report. Consultants CapGemini are rumoured to have been paid tens of millions for scoping reports. Bill English was reported as saying $700 million from asset sales proceeds will be spent ‘rebuilding the country’s tax system’ but has dodged direct questions on the topic since. Dunne says decisions haven’t been taken yet.
Voluntary compliance for income tax payments is declining. At last count 1 million tax returns hadn’t been processed and $7 Billion in tax was outstanding. Unbelievably, Dunne says 32 separate privacy breaches in a year isn’t evidence of a systematic failure and he is refusing to answer specific questions on the matter. Call centre staff turnover is high. Morale is low.
The computer problem desperately needs addressing as I explained in a recent article in the Otago Daily Times. And it requires a transparent process. Nothing to report after nine months begs some questions about competence.