Inland Revenue is beginning work to explore allowing online third-party accounting software to integrate with the GST returns system.
"We will be working with a small group of companies who attended the recent Business to Government innovation workshop in the development of a proof of concept of an API service," says Arlene White, deputy commissioner service delivery.
"By shifting more transactions from manual to digital processes this work will also support Inland Revenue's Business Transformation Programme."
Inland Revenue works regularly with accounting and payroll software providers, through its Software Developers Liaison Unit. "We also meet with New Zealand industry groups such as the IITP, NZ Rise and the Technology Industry Association, and engagements with our vendors," says White.
In his address to the workshop Xero chief executive Rod Drury had earlier said that the top three or four services provided should be done by the private sector. Xero and Westpac sponsored the workshop, which was attended by around 100 business and government people.
The Business Transformation Programme has taken another step toward making tax compliance easier with the release of a request for proposal for a design provider, says Revenue Minister Todd McClay in a subsequent press statement.
"This is the biggest transformation in the department's history, and we're committed to doing it right using the best services available," he says.
"New Zealand taxpayers, particularly small-to-medium sized businesses, need simpler and faster ways to deal with tax."
"A significant aspect of Business Transformation will be improving Inland Revenue's system so that business systems can talk to the IRD automatically," says McClay. "Businesses will automatically fulfil their GST, PAYE and provisional tax obligations while they get on with running their businesses, making profits and creating jobs."
"Currently small business owners spend far too much of their time and money on tax compliance, which inevitably impacts on their profitability."
"While Inland Revenue is doing what it can to alleviate this compliance burden, there is only so much that can be done within the current system."
The closed RFP has been released to Accenture and Capgemini, which were shortlisted during the Expression of Interest phase. McClay says both have extensive international experience in delivering tax and technology programmes, and have been working with New Zealand companies during the process.
Capgemini wrote the business case for transformation.
"It was always envisaged that the capability and capacity required to implement Business Transformation would come from both New Zealand and overseas," says McClay.
"I am advised that both the remaining vendors have committed to work closely with the New Zealand ICT sector to design and build significant parts of the process."
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"It is my expectation that at least one-third of the total services spend on Business Transformation will go to New Zealand businesses."
It's been suggested that the cost of the Business Transformation Programme over 10 years will be around $1.5 billion.
Inland Revenue has been discussing transformation since the days of former commissioner David Henry. As one attendee at the workshop commented: "The Second World War started and finished in the time it's taken to get transformation under way."