Two-month delay for tax returns angers workers

GUERNSEY’S Income Tax office has been accused of ‘unfair’ and ‘disgraceful’ tactics by giving islanders and businesses less time to complete their 2013 tax returns.

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Carolyn Robert joined several islanders in expressing frustration with the Income Tax office

The changes, as a result of a backlog at Income Tax, mean that people will have up to two months fewer to complete their 2013 tax returns, in the same year that fines are increased to £300.

Angry taxpayers are demanding an extension to the 30 November deadline for returns, to ensure people are not punished for the backlog.

Carolyn Robert was among those who would welcome people being given the same amount of time as previous years to complete their forms.

‘I take ages to do mine,’ said the 56-year-old.

‘But [Income Tax staff] take ages to sort them out.

‘They want us to do everything quickly, but they don’t really pull their finger out, so to speak.’

People will not be able to complete their tax returns online until 3 February or in paper form until 3 March under the changes.

 

Comments for: "Two-month delay for tax returns angers workers"

Just Sayin'

People will complain about everything and anything. We have 10 months to complete our tax forms, surely that is ample time and it's only us putting it off and 'not bothering' that makes us go to the last minute. If the tax were to extend the deadline then they're only extending and exasperating the matter. Maybe if we co-opearted and got our tax forms in within say, the first month they wouldn't have this issue? Just a thought...

Meanwhile, stop putting it off and spend the half hour/hour filling it in.

The oldguern

You are missing the point to the problem.

Just before Christmas we all received our tax codings for this year to set how much we all have to pay direct out of our wages. This was based on our earnings from 2012. if you cannot post your 2013 earings in until after 3rd March and by the time they get checked and returned to you, you may find you are not paying enough and then the tax will send you a bill and say you have days not weeks or months to pay?

Local Dad

I'm one of those people that likes to get my form in during January - yes OK it isn't ideal and there's clearly problems at the Income Tax Office but let's not make a mountain out of a molehill.

Look at it like this - since everyone knows what needs to be on the form why not just do all the donkey work during January, get the figures ready and then just fill in the blanks come February 3rd?

Is that really such a problem?

Terry Langlois

whilst I am frustrated with the delays at the Income Tax office, I do not understand why having a shorter period to complete the form has any impact on taxpayers at all. It does not take more than 9 months to complete the form.

Just complete the form in March instead of January, where's the problem? If the deadline of 30 November is an issue for you, then you are not likely to be in position to start completing the form in January or February anyway.

Jim

How can we be sure that all the delays and backlogs seen in 2013, plus this delay now, is actually ever going to be resolved? And how did it get this bad?

Dan

There's more than enough time to complete your tax return. You have the same amount of time to prepare your information for the tax forms as any other year. Just because you wont get your form through the post before March doesn't mean you can't take some time in January and February to dig out your invoices, payslips and other information and get prepared.

The time it takes to deal with the Tax office is shocking, but as has been mentioned in the comments of other Tax stories they don't have the staff to deal with the returns and training and retaining new staff is no quick or easy task. The real issue with the delay is how will it effect the returns next year? will the backlog rollover to 2015?

AN Other

Don't be stupid, there is still plenty of time to complete and return income tax returns.

I use a personal spreadsheet to calculate if they owe me or vice versa before I even receive their assessment.

Gsytoffee

Any chance I can have your spreadsheet. It would save me creating one

AN Other

It depends on the complexity of your income and allowances but it should be straight forward enough for you to setup your own. Create a spreadsheet with a breakdown of your income, ie salary and any dividends gross of tax and total it up. Then enter a breakdown of allowances ie single persons allowance in 2013 was 9,475 then on the next column show the actual amount of any mortgage interest paid in 2013. Deduct your total allowances from total income and calculate 20% of that figure, this is the amount of tax you should have paid. Compare this to the actual tax paid according to the figure quoted on your salary slip from your employer and any tax paid reflected on your dividend vouchers (if any).

Astonished

I really can't believe that it causes so much disruption to receive access to the online return a matter of days later- you still have nearly a whole year to complete and submit. If it takes Ms Roberts so long to do her return then it won't matter in the slightest that she has access in February rather than mid January- if you are so concerned at you still haven't got enough time to complete one form by the end of November, then there's nothing stopping you accumulating and preparing the information in the next few weeks.

RealGuern

The ONLY people this will impact are those that regularly filled in their form before the end of January. Those complaining that it will make it harder to fill in on time have absolutely nothing to back up their complaints. If you weren't going to get you return done by the end of November, it is HIGHLY UNLIKELY that you were going to start filling it in BEFORE 3rd February.

It takes me a grand total of about five hours to fill in mine because I get all the paperwork ready before I fill it in. If it takes you more than 10 months to complete what is a simple form compared to other jurisdictions, then you really need some help.

Laziness, plain and simple.

sam

I completed my tax form on line last year and then a few days later had an e-mail from the tax office to say that my form had not been accepted, I rang the tax office and eventually spoke a very rude person who told me that I must have filled in something wrong on the form (She would not tell me what though) even though it said it was accepted at the time. I knew I was due a refund but due to this error that took about 2 months to arrive on my doorstep. Whilst I don't mind helping the tax office my doing my form on line why should I then have to wait so long for a refund. Absolutely disgusting.

RealGuern

You will probably find that the e-mail actually stated that you did not qualify for automatic assessment. This is not the same as saying it was not accepted. I got the same response, assumed it was because some elements had changed from the previous year and was patient. I got my refund a couple of months later and was quite happy in the speed of that. It's much faster than if you do it on paper. Quit complaining!

Crispin

He's every right to complain, I've not had my rebate that was due in 2012!!! Absolute cretins, would never get a job in the real world (aka private sector)!

AN Other

It is your responsibility to ensure that your tax coding is accurate so if you believe you are due a rebate then you should ensure this year that your tax coding is more accurate.

Mark

ANOther

Funnily enough I sent a letter to the ITO over a month ago requesting a new coding notice and set out exactly what should change and why.

Still haven't heard back from them...

clanic

Cretins!!!!? Thats a bit harsh.......obviously your real world is very hostile!!

I do my return in 30 minutes tops what is the problem...when they are done then if it takes a few months to receive my assessment so what? U all amaze me I have spoken to many staff at the tax office they are very helpful. Like the "private sector" they are doing their job. The ones that complain saying that 11 months isn't enough time to do their returns...If they spent less time moaning maybe they would get done.

islander

Whats all the fuss.In years gone by we were given just 30 days to fill in and send back our form completed.

Maybe if the income tax authority were to convert back to this time period there would be no need for extension.

If circumstances changes during the tax year a phone call for a direction notice is with you the following day.

Fill in your tax online is quicker and explanations are far easier to understand in filling out your form.

Only disadvantage of the income authority is that they are slow to pay back what they owe you.

John

What is the problem. You still have 11 months to complete and submit.

Simply compile all the necessary information and when the forms are available complete them.

I cannot fathom what all the fuss is about. Some people will complain about anything.

Tony Webber

I cannot disagree with most of the comments posted on this so far.

However, as a former elected member of the then States Income Tax Authority for six years, during that period the phone was always answered promptly by staff, the service was good and the relationship with the taxpayer was seen as both fair and firm.

Although some staff have left since then, there are many longstanding and new staff who do their best to serve the public well now.

What is different is that there is a new States political structure and different politicians in the body responsible for Income Tax, the Treasury and Resources Department. If we brought back in more of a caring political leadership, then the staff would feel more motivated and supported, and I am sure this would be reflected in the service to taxpayers.

I am sure the dreaded Financial Transformation Programme has played its part in damaging the quality of service at Income Tax, the same as it has in other States Departments. The sooner that Programme of rewarding some financially for the reduction of services caused to the wider community the better.

I suggest that the previous Income Tax Authority, in circumstances like this, would have just extended the deadline by another two months. I don't think they would have gone along with the £300 fine scenario either.

Whilst I accept the vast majority of people should have no problem with submitting their Income Tax Returns on time, there are always many exceptions, where for quite valid reasons some extra time is needed.

However, this does not mean that the staff should not be fully supported in their efforts to bring taxation income in and on time, and the current Head of Income Tax has done a very good job for the Bailiwick, particularly the larger amounts where focus is obviously very important.

So, in conclusion, more staff for Income Tax, and a firm policy which is also compassionate and caring.

Not again

@ Tony Webber

Forgot you were a States deputy or Conseiller, not said this enough!

You could have posted the first sentence and the last one and said the same thing.

soph

Have to agree with Tony about some comments

But how much does it cost income tax to post a letter saying £6 is owed to me, let alone issue and post it later?

Daft IT section States of Guernsey needs sacking along with SAT nerds making a HUGE fortune out of us island taxpayers

nicky

This delay will cause unnecessary hardship to simple taxpayers who are used to submitting their paper returns early in January. Their tax liability would invariably follow quickly and they are then able to pay their tax by more or less painless deductions from their pay OVER MOST OF THE REMAINING MONTHS OF THE YEAR. This will not be possible now.

Keith

It's not really much of a concern at the moment but I'm sure in a few years time, that they will have increased the fine to a few thousand pounds and reduced the deadline to a couple of weeks... it all just seems to be a scheme to get as much cash as possible out of the unwitting public !

Crispin

As we seem to always follow what the UK do, can we just follow their way of doing it? ie. people with straightforward tax affairs don't need to do a return.

Mark

It's a bit more complicated than that in the UK. Only basic rate (i.e. 20%) tax payers and below can get away with not submitting a return. Assuming as you say that your taxable income is only employment and / or bank interest related and there are no taxable capital gains.

If you're a lower rate or non tax payer and are getting taxed at source on your bank interest etc. then you would want to submit a return (even though one may not be due) in order to claim tax paid back.

It's only when you hit the 40% band, regardless of how straightforward or complicated your tax affairs may be, that you absolutely have to submit a tax return.

Far too complicated for our relatively straightforward system. If your affairs are simple it doesn't take long to lift one number from your final payslip, maybe 12 interest receipts from a bank statement and look at your year end mortgage statement (if you have one). I don't think it ever takes me more than an hour to do my return and most of that time is spent finding the necessary bits of paper!

Toby

What I don't understand is how the delay is going to help ?

Say they currently have a backlog of 8,000 returns to process ..... And they can only process 4,000 a month ..... And they receive roughly 40,000 returns a year

If they let us all file our returns now , that would say give them 48,000 returns to process .... So in two months time they will have processed 8,000 and have 40,000 left.

If they delay receiving any new returns for two months, they will clear the backlog of 8,000 .... And then receive 40,000 new returns ..... And will therefore have 40,000 returns left to process ...

So what difference does it make ?

CS

I believe the main reason for the delay to the e-forms was to allow the Quarter 4 ETI returns from the employers to be processed, therefore if someone completes their return online their wages will match the figure declared by the employer.

It appears the delay to the paper returns is to encourage people to complete their returns online?

Toby

And it's taken them how many decades to work out that returns could be filed before the information necessary to process them accurately was received from employers ?

Why not just budge the whole process along a month .... File from 01 Feb until 31 December ? .....

Oh Dear

The deadline is not an issue. What is an issue is the incompetence of the staff. I have had various issues with them, it took me four e-mails and trying to phone every lunch time for a week before I managed to get through to someone. When I finally managed to get through the member of staff was rude and abrupt. Despite the fact that I was frustrated by the length of time it took me to get through I was still polite on the phone. I ended up speaking to about six different people for what should have only been a minor problem. The fact that they're so behind on their work also displays their level of incompetence. Well, either incompetence or under staffed. It really needs to be sorted. Before dishing out, over the top fines perhaps they could ensure that the staff are capable of doing their work on time!

Clanic

I would think the reason why it takes so long for you to get through is because there is too many people with nothing better to do that moan about something.

Why do you call the staff incompetent? understaffed maybe but incompetent I think u need to pull your head in and start thinking properly.

I find the staff very helpful and polite they have a lot to put up with I expect.

I have had a fine and like everyone that has had fines I would think it is because they either haven't sent in their tax forms or not paid the tax due. no one gets a fine for nothing... I didnt send in my forms so I paid a fine. my fault!!

At least when u phone the tax you speak to a person and not a recording like a lot of other places.

Gavin St Pier

Please see content of Press Release sent out today:

"Treasury and Resources has confirmed today that it has reviewed the decision to delay availability of tax return filing facilities by the Income Tax Office.

At a Board meeting yesterday, it was agreed that customer interests must be put first and that every effort should be made to open up the on-line facility earlier than planned.

A spokesperson for the Department confirmed: 

“This was the first opportunity the Board had to review the change in operational policy.  We are conscious that many Islanders will always prefer to submit their returns in January.  The Board is keen to encourage more customers to file their returns on-line by making them available at an earlier opportunity, which is also important in trying to help manage overall workloads within the Income Tax Office in the longer term”.

The Board’s intention is that the on-line facility will be made available as soon as possible and certainly no later than Monday 20th January.  It also intends to bring forward the date for availability of paper tax returns and will confirm further details on this point in due course.

The spokesperson continued:

“The Board regards tax administration as a ‘customer service’ to which taxpayers have a fair expectation of reasonable service standards.  In the Board’s view, for a number of reasons, service levels have been sub-optimal for a year or so.  Therefore, the Board have at their request been regularly updated on the operational challenges faced by the Income Tax Office and have been supportive of management initiatives to improve performance.  Consequently, the Board have identified that improvements in performance are an operational priority in 2014 for the management of the Department.”

Watcher

I think Income Tax are absolutely wonderful. Last week I had a letter from them saying that they owed me a rebate of £lots and this week I received it. Great but could they not have put the cheque in with the first letter? Why waste letter, envelope and stamp not to mention staff time ? Mrs. Watcher meanwhile has designs on the rebate, at least I was able to hold it for a few hours.

Guern

Don't get to happy this weeks letter will tell you that you owe them, what ever they have repaid you plus for 2013.

Bereaved

Useless department , useless staff , complete waste of time . My last surviving parent died 12 months ago. I completed and returned her forms within a week of death for 2012 stating that the marginal amount of bank interest that they received would be declared when confirmed . Took the 2012 return by hand to the office. 2 weeks later I got an official letter saying that this was not acceptable to which I replied that those ( literally pence ! ) were 2013 income and that they could go and do things to themselves that are both illegal and immoral.

Complete bunch of a...holes

Oilcan Annie

At a meeting last year for students hoping to start university this coming September we were told to have our returns in by the end of January to allow enough time for assessments to be made for grants.

Will this be a problem?