Wellington April 6, 2020
Inland Revenue Department (IRD) will turn off its computer systems for seven days from Thursday, April 9, 2020 to implement the latest round of planned transformation changes.
Neither telephone nor online services will be unavailable from 3 pm on April 9, 2020 to April 16, 2020, including two business days, namely, April 14 and 15, 2020.
IRD Deputy Commissioner (Change) Greg James said that in the context of the Covid-19 crisis, it was important for New Zealanders to know that the Department would continue, over the shutdown period, to support the Ministry of Social Development in approving wage subsidy applications.
It will also continue to make all expected payments, including Working for Families payments.
Service comes atop
“In a difficult time such as this, helping people get what they need as quickly as we can, remains our top priority and making these changes now significantly improves our ability to deliver Covid-19 tax measures over the coming weeks and months,” he said.
Mr James said that the transformation changes will further simplify tax requirements, reduce effort, improve services and allow customers to do more for themselves.
It will increase the ability of the Department to respond swiftly to any Covid-19-related developments and to any other crisis situations that might occur in the future, he said.
However, Mr James acknowledged that the changes could increase the risk of service disruptions in the short term, if things did not go completely smoothly.
“We will be managing some short-term disruption in order to get the immediate and long-term benefits for New Zealanders. We have carefully considered our options in this but we cannot know what the risks involved in delaying and choosing some future date are because we do not know what will be happening in the economy then. So, not making these changes now would mean delaying the benefits to New Zealand, without necessarily reducing the risk,” he said.
Mr James said that the Department was well prepared, with a dedicated team to identify and resolve any issues quickly.
While myIR will not be functioning, the IRD website content will still be accessible.
Any Employment Information files due during this time can be filed on April 17, 2020.
IRD will write-off any penalties and interest for businesses unable to pay taxes on time due to the impact of COVID-19. “Do not worry about contacting us right now. Get in touch with us when you can,” Mr James said.
To help get correct payments to people, IRD would like employers to file their returns as normal. “This helps us work out the right amounts for people and helps the Government continue to respond to what is happening in the economy,” Mr James said.
He said that these changes will help ensure that the automatic issue of income tax assessments runs more smoothly.
For all dealings with IRD (except child support and paid parental leave for now) people will be able to do more for themselves and apply for help if they need it through myIR.
For KiwiSaver providers
IRD will exchange information with KiwiSaver scheme providers much more quickly, meaning that customers’ accounts will be more up to date. The Government guarantee of employer contributions can only be implemented in the new system, called, ‘START.’
Customers experiencing difficulties will be able to apply for relief through a simple, new myIR service. Currently they have to ring us or fill in a form.
“Borrowers who are struggling to repay their student loans will be able to apply for a special deduction rate online. Currently, they have to ring or write to us. These new services will make it easier for customers to get the help they need and will help to ensure their payment obligations reflect their current income,” Mr James said.
“KiwiSaver and Student Loan information will be processed more quickly and will be more accurate. Improved self-service options will enable Student Loan borrowers to manage their loans more easily themselves and will provide KiwiSaver members with better information about their contributions and now, do more for themselves. IRD will share Student Loan information with other government agencies more quickly and efficiently,” he said.
“Employers will be able to manage all their information and obligations in one account and will have a consolidated view of all the deductions they make on behalf of their employees. Employers will be able to set up instalment arrangements themselves online for any debt they owe instead of having to call us,” he added.