Today’s crash of Inland Revenue’s website highlights a wider IT vulnerability that must be addressed – urgently.
The IRDs current tax collection system was designed in the early nineties. It was effective for many years. But it has become increasingly obvious that patches applied over recent years are a failing stopgap. New Zealand needs real progress on a replacement system.
The Government has already written off millions of dollars after a failed attempt to rebuild the student loans component of the IRD online collection system. Since then no progress, only bad news. Earlier this year, it was revealed that the Government estimates a necessary IT rebuild of IRD’s whole tax collection structure will cost up to $1.5 billion dollars.
New Zealand is not unique in having a tax system. Adapting successful systems used elsewhere is the logical approach to replacing our ailing IT infrastructure. This problem has been on the horizon for some time. It beggars belief that the Government has not yet outlined a convincing plan or timeline for the development of overdue IT solutions.
Voluntary compliance with a transparent tax system is critical to the efficient and effective functioning of our society.
Businesses rely upon our tax collection system working properly when they put their GST returns in. They don’t have time to waste reentering data when systems go down. We cannot afford to risk the patience of those citizens who wish to comply with their civic duty.
And testing the patience of businesses is not all that is at stake here. Our hospitals and schools rely upon a trustworthy tax-collection system. The IRD must not be allowed to fail.
The Minister of Revenue has not put forward a credible timeline for the project, and it is becoming clear that the government is sitting on its hands whilst New Zealanders face the consequences of an IT time bomb.
Not good enough Minister.