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A Government attempt to make Tax Administration Simpler

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With the purpose of improving the current tax system, the Government has introduced some proposed changes to modernise New Zealand’s tax administration. These changes will make a huge impact on business, individuals and social policy customers in New Zealand.

From the statistics they have collected, it shows that individual income tax and Goods and Services Tax (GST) have a large proportion in the tax revenue collected at the end of June 2014 which was 40% and 32% respectively. It means that business and individual income tax are the very important part of the NZ tax system. Therefore, in this article, we will focus mainly on proposed changes of business and individual income tax.

Some major problems have been identified in the current NZ taxation system.

  • Technology and business processes have dramatically improved in the last decade. However, the NZ tax system is still operating in an old-fashioned manner. Although there are some improvements, it is not enough to keep up with the advance of technology. For example, paper-based return is still be used by a large number of taxpayers.
  • The tax system is still very complex and it costs a lot for the government and taxpayers to maintain the complex system.
  • Most businesses operating in New Zealand are small-medium business. The compliance and administration costs are still high.  
  • There are some problems relating to the provision of information. The way Government collect and store information provided by taxpayers are still not efficient and effective.

Therefore, government has introduced these proposed changes to simplify the tax system making it work more efficiently and effectively for everyone using it.

Business taxation system

PAYE

First problem when dealing with business tax system is PAYE

In the current PAYE system, many employers still submit returns to IRD using paper-based. Although electronic filling is available, it is identified as additional process for businesses and is not aligned to businesses ‘accounting or payroll processes. More problems also come from the process of PAYE system. The IRD does not have a system to verify the information at the time they collect, which results to inaccurate information is being accepted by IRD. Moreover, there is an inefficient use of available information, as IRD does not have a good system to keep track of all information collected. 

There are some issues with the current PAYE rules. The first and major problem is that the rules have not been significantly reviewed since its introduction in 1957. The PAYE system had become more complex, as individual wage and salary earners do not have to file annual tax returns and PAYE is used to ensure that correct amount of tax is collected from this group. More complexity is added through the introduction of other rules with KiwiSaver and Superannuation Funds. Tax codes and current marginal rate are also important to work out the correct tax for wage and salary earners.

Thus, there is a need to review and improve the PAYE rules and its system to make it more simple, but still accurate to use. The objective is to remove complexity in the PAYE rules and system making it more user-friendly for employers.

Proposed changes will incorporate PAYE process to the business system by improving greater use of digital services. By doing this, they can improve the timeliness and accuracy of information received. Information technology or software can help to deliver information faster and more accurate and it also a great way to reduce any errors or duplications in the information. Taxpayers also only have to supply information to government once as government can supply it to all related departments. In order to achieve that, they want to integrate PAYE into existing business systems rather than just an additional process for businesses. Compliance cost will also be reduced for the benefit of taxpayers.

For the PAYE rules, there is a review of existing PAYE rules which focuses on:

  • Extra pays
  • Holiday pays
  • IR 56 payers
  • ESCT
  • Secondary tax codes and other flat PAYE rates
  • Wages protection
  • PAYE rules cross-border employment relationships.

They also review the rules and link between withholding taxes and PAYE. The scheduler payment rules were introduced to cover situations when there is no true employment relationship.

Our view

The current PAYE system is still complex for small and medium business. The use of digital PAYE calculator and online tools to fill PAYE returns are highly recommended. These processes needed to be improved to create a more streamline process and easy to use for both taxpayers and Inland Revenue. It is important to revise the PAYE rules, but not complicate it further.

Provisional Tax

Problems

There are three major issues behind the provisional tax systems. The first problem is the risk of estimate provisional tax. When people under-estimates their provisional tax, there will be a Use of Money Interest (UOMI) charged on the business. Thus, to prevent interest, business will try to estimate annual tax liabilities par-way through a year of assessment. This will take times and there is compliance cost associated with estimating process. Other problem is associated with cash flows. Terminal tax will bring cash flow difficulties for business and it has flow-on effects for Inland Revenue in its enforcement activities.

Options

There are many options introduced to reduce the provisional tax problems for businesses. The calculation and payment of income tax could be done more ”on –account” as income is earned during the year, just like PAYE system for business. The idea is to prepare accounting profits with a few adjustments, so the result can be used to calculate provisional tax. The purpose of this is to simplify the calculation of provisional tax. Businesses can also use third parties account-software to work out their taxable income for provisional tax. Other way to improve provisional tax system is to review the standard uplift method and its threshold (safe harbour taxpayers).

Moreover, for the cash-flow problems, individual and business need to be prepared and put money aside to have sufficient funds to pay for terminal tax when it falls due. There is an investigation to introduce a concept called “tax bank”. This is tax account where money is used only to meet tax obligations as they arise.

Our view

We do not think that the “tax bank” is going to work. It is more likely to hold up capital while taxpayer can use it for other important think in their business.

Small-medium Businesses

Problem

Most of companies operating in New Zealand are small and medium in size. Compare with large business, these businesses bears a larger proportion of compliance cost. Large businesses often have a better understanding of tax, good financial system and business process. Therefore, making tax easier for small and medium business is a real priority for the authority.

The problem with small and medium business in New Zealand is that they do not have enough understanding of tax, good financial systems and business process, which will affect their ability to meet their tax obligations. For example, without a good accounting system, their reported profit is likely to be inaccurate. There might be errors leading to incorrect profit, such as: mistakenly report between business and personal income and expenses, deductions and classification of capital expenditure and depreciation rate. Lacking of taxation knowledge could lead to incorrectly report their tax codes, file wrong tax returns and under-over pay tax.

Options

Accounting software has been strongly recommended, as it could help small and medium business to meet their obligations. By using accounting software, it is easier for business owners to follow and prevent them from making errors. In case errors have been made, these softwares make it easier to identify the error and fix it before filing to Inland Revenue. Filling return process is also easier and more interactive between Inland Revenue and taxpayer by using these softwares.

Penalties rules are expected to change as well. The new rule will focus more on the processes and systems of the customer, thus encouraging customers to remedy systems faults which give rise to tax shortfalls. Therefore, Government is working to simplify the tax rules, which the purpose to reduce compliance costs and make it easy to comply.

Our view

Improving software is one good way to help small and medium business. However, we think that it is not very helpful to improve taxpayers’ understanding of tax. Government need to simplify the tax systems and better explanation of tax system on their website or better education before taking money from their account because of these misunderstanding,.

RWT

As the population is aging, more saving is expected to be made. Thus, resident withholding tax (RWT) will become more popular in the future.

Problem

The problem with current RWT system is that Inland Revenue only receives information from financial institutions on an annual basis. Thus, the process is very slow and sometimes it is not accurate and hard to verify. The administration cost and compliance cost associated with this process are quite high. For the dividends prospective, the process is still slow and IRD could not receive information in time when dividends payments are made. For personal interest receive, taxpayers can choose the interest they want to be taxed at. This can create lots of biased outcome.

Options

There are many reviews have been done on RWT system. Information relating to RWT should ideally be processed automatically as part of existing business systems rather than as part of a separate return. Business system should interact directly with Inland Revenue with up-front validation of information.

Our Opinion

It is the right way to improve interaction and system between business and Inland Revenue in terms of RWT. The current system is highly dependent on financial institutions.

Overall the Government is heading the right direction, with the changing world around us, the tax system needs to be changed. Their main focus is going to be around data validation, where they can have some checks in place to ensure the data collection is correct. For example if you have entered incorrect IRD number of your employee, this will be alarmed at the point of entry. Or if you have chosen incorrect tax rate during opening your bank account, this will be alarmed at the point of entering your tax rate. It is all about collecting the right kind of data, and ensuring data can check itself and send alarms to the concerned authorities or people.

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Saurav Wadhwa is a Principal Accountant at IBBZ Accounting Limited


M Bus (TAX) PG Cert (LAW) CA CPA


Membership and Qualification:


- Masters in Professional Business Studies (Taxation) with Distinction from Auckland University of Technology


- Post Graduate Certificate in LAW, Law School at Auckland University of Technology


- Chartered Accountant(CA), New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants (NZICA)


- Certified Practicing Accountant(CPA), CPA Australia


- Bachelor of Commerce, Grad. Cert. in Business from Auckland University of Technology


Saurav Wadhwa


Saurav has many years of practical experience in tax & accounting services and is the co-founder of IBBZ Accounting Limited.  He is qualified both in law and accounting. Saurav has worked in various tax & accounting specialist roles for large corporates in New Zealand. He loves to work with Small Businesses.


His key focus is on:



  • Tax advisory for small and family operated businesses on a wide range of taxation issues.

  • Legitimate tax saving structures.

  • Advising on range of new business issues.

  • Ensuring business growth is attained.

  • Effective cash flow planning.


Saurav specialises in Tax Disputes resolution, Tax Relief applications, Tax Debt resolution/management, and representation in Tax Audit. Saurav can represent you in Taxation Review Authority,  in Tax Dispute Court Cases or he can represent you during Tax Audit Investigations.


Blend of skills in Tax laws and accounting, makes him perfect advisor for small businesses and individuals like you. Saurav understands how to safeguard your business from creditors risk, maximise the business growth and pay low taxes. He can be your good strategic and business partner. He is of a friendly nature and easily approachable.


Saurav understands the numbers very well. He is a qualified Chartered Accountant and registered with highest professional accounting bodies of Australia and New Zealand. He can help you to plan for the future to satisfy all your financial needs.



Consumed by a hunger for knowledge, Saurav has never stopped furthering his education or expanding his pool of knowledge. Nothing gives Saurav more satisfaction than assisting his clients to achieve their financial goals. His diligence, passion and accuracy has earned him a reputation as a reliable professional who strives to serve his clients above and beyond the call of his duties.



Saurav was nominated for the Best Accountant of the year and the Young Entrepreneur of the year, and his company IBBZ Accounting won the award of Best Small Business 2014. In 2015 Saurav won the award of Best Accountant of the Year.


In 2017 Saurav was appointed as a committee member to New Zealand Public Practice Board of CPA Australia. 



Saurav is a dedicated family man. Saurav is very fond of outdoor activities and enjoys pretty much all outdoor activities: running, bike, motorbike, snorkel, fishing, skiing etc. Saurav, is also a self-confessed workaholic, spends some of his free time thinking about his client’s affairs and forecasting their financial future.


He can be contacted on saurav@ibbz.co.nz  or 09 272 8050

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Guest Monday, 25 September 2017