Back in April, one of the first major Budget announcements was a package of initiatives aimed at simplifying business taxes, with the expectation this would save taxpayers $187 million.
The announcements were another step in the Inland Revenue’s business transformation (BT) programme, which is tied in with the development of Inland Revenue’s new computer system.
Inherent in the changes is a move to both Inland Revenue and taxpayers making better use of technology to make tax easier. Included in the announcements on Budget Day is an additional $857 million of operational and capital funding over the next four years to build the new tax administration system. The expectation is that this funding will result in $284 million of savings for Inland Revenue and an additional $280 million in additional tax revenue from greater compliance by taxpayers.
Technology, and working with technology companies, is one our passions at Deloitte, so we’re excited to see how far the tax system can go to take the pain of tax compliance away from our growing businesses.
While we haven’t seen anything majorly transformational so far, it is about taking incremental steps along a journey. Just remember, it’s not so long ago that one couldn’t even get Inland Revenue to send an email without giving them written permission first!
Along with the Budget announcements, since April we’ve seen Inland Revenue working with Xero and MYOB software to pre-populate GST return information with a business’ sales and purchases figures. The return is then filed with Inland Revenue through the accounting software. This will be a bit of a time saver for the simplest of businesses, but puts a high level of reliance on all the coding being done right and on time.
Technology is great, but Inland Revenue are going to need to walk a fine line between making life easy for people while still providing enough education for taxpayers to be able to logic-check the answers the computer is providing them.
Ironically, while in the world of BT we are trying to make tax simpler with technology, tax laws are actually getting more complex with anti-avoidance rules – not just ones which are targeted at multinationals (the provisional tax simplifications announced in the Budget actually contain a number of anti-avoidance rules, for example).
It will be interesting to see whether tax laws can evolve to become more black and white to suit the greater use of technology, or whether subjectivity and complexity will continue to rule the tax world.
This article was taken from our 2016 New Zealand Budget Analysis