Responses to the article of 28 May – article here

I really appreciated hearing that other Tax Agents are not happy to recommend the AIM system to their clients as yet.  I have had a number of enquiries from my clients asking why I have not recommended it to them – and it is nice to know I am not alone (I am a sole proprietor Tax Agent member of ATAINZ) in thinking it is not going to be very beneficial to them.
I too find it difficult to navigate around the new tax system in MyIR, and I do not appreciate being advised on my workspace page that ‘I’ owe IRD many $000’s, which of course is actually my clients total liability.  I appreciate the comment too that IRD is implying, and in some cases actually stating, that tax is due ‘Now’, when it is not. As the interviewees said, clients are terrified when contacted by IRD, but usually they think they, IRD, must be correct, and the Tax Agent has got it wrong.
IRD really does have to stop doing this, as clients, and myself, find it stressful and so time consuming to sort out.

Agree totally and our Institute [CAANZ] is not that helpful either.

I agree with you article and where is CAANZ acting on behalf?
If I wasn’t so far behind with my work I would be organising a meeting of agents here to take on IRD.
Keep up the good work

All and partners and senior staff are in support of you. We are continually having the same problem with IRD.
Please let me know what you would like us to do in support

You are spot on.

I agree with your efforts to get IRD to change this situation.
I do believe there is only one way it’s going to change, the defaults that tell the IR computer to send a letter directly to a client needs to be rewritten, I’m not sure they want to do this, but the letters aren’t hand written, so someone needs rewrite the computer letter writing programme.
We did start to hear what are some of the triggers that provoke contact straight to the client, either these have to be changed and all staff at IR notified or it will just keep on happening. I’m still not convinced they really want to do this.
If we did ever get the complete list then we could go through it and see what they are happy to change, but they haven’t even given us that.
Given the task of the IR is to collect tax and tax-agents file returns and save tax I think there is a conflict of interest that isn’t about to be settled easily..

Well said Jeff!

Your paper echoes the feeling of public practitioners I come in contact with.
I must say I thought we had hit ground zero when I had my IRD agency account manager in here the other day and when I said it felt like Xero/MYOB/IRD were trying to marginalise us with AIM type promotions and dealing direct with the “customer”, TO MY SURPRISE THEY AGREED WITH ME.
We are not against change but letting the client loose on general ledger systems when they don’t know the difference between capital/revenue distinction, and many other detailed tax adjustments, simply means that the government, represented by the taxpayer will be the loser in the long run.

I totally agree with you – my clients are confused and it leads to lack of confidence as clients feel
that the tax agent is not doing a good job.
Please fight to stop this.
Of particular frustration is IRD making contact about overdue provisional tax to contractors who are contracting through Labour Hire firms and having withholding tax deducted.
Since IRD systems don’t subtract the WHT from provisional tax we’ve had individual contacting clients contacted about their prov tax.
It’s even worse explaining to clients when the WHT is deducted from their company but knowing income will be attributed to the individual.
I appreciate the individual situation is most acute in this transition year but it has been a pain.
In general I agree that tax agents who don’t follow up with their clients make it harder for us all and qualifications for tax agency should be lifted.
The business portal has also made it harder to interact as payment transfers are no longer possible for business tax types. I had a client who paid its March GST to January. It took ages for IRD to be able to be contacted and arrange for the transfer.
Happy to help with this matter if you need.

Well said, thanks Jeff.

Not sure if this is the space you are looking at but IRD are now sending payment reminder letters to our clients where they have filed their GST returns but not paid due to payment not being due until end of the month.

A great article.
As you quite correctly point out the majority of us as tax agents try our utmost to do right by the tax system and by our clients. We act if letters or other communication is sent to us advising of overdue returns and overdue tax in respect of any of our clients. Going directly to our clients can be confusing when conflicting against reality.
We can sympathise with Inland Revenue regarding the large amount of overdue tax, that needs to be collected to be fair to the majority of taxpayers who pay their taxes and pay on time.
Your article was balanced in addressing the poor quality of tax agents, or those that don’t take required action when notices are received advising of overdue amounts and/or returns.
Keep up the crusade.

Thanks very much for that.
Totally agree. I had a client call me a week ago (mid June 2018) saying he had just received a text from IRD telling him to not forget to pay his 7 April 2018 tax!!! Ridiculous. They are creating more non-productive work for us and more confusion for our clients.

Well done Jeff.
Great article and interview, keep it up

Thanks for this.
I have had two clients recently contacted by IRD direct – one is a GST check and we do the GST Return!!!
I have expressed by dissatisfaction with this and got told that this is what they have been instructed to do and will be contacting 900 odd business people to discuss (push) AIM.
I am not happy with this either and are attending a Local Branch meeting tomorrow night to raise these issues

Have had a beauty this week.
Client had letters and texts saying she had $390.64 2017 INC to pay.
After a bit of detective work, discovered it related to prior period penalties meaning what we thought would transfer forward from 2016 wasn’t available. Lazy me decided to pay the difference immediately and discuss with client when the statements came out.
When I looked online the figure had grown to $515.65, basically late payment penalties, so I rang the Call Centre and explained the situation – they advised once the payment of $390.64 was processed the penalties would be remitted (grace period scenario) and all would be good.
Next minute … receive email from client with deduction notice (copy attached) – how embarrassing ! for her and for me. And for $127.90!?!
I’ve now talked to Call Centre who have arranged the remission and apparently cancelled the deduction notice and rung employer to confirm that.
What a waste of everybody’s life.
A bit of a rave, but hopefully relevant to your crusade. I asked client if she was happy for me to forward – she’s happy, confidentially of course.

Our client received [the attached letter] from Inland Revenue.
Our complaint is:
• Why did this letter go to our client directly when our client is linked to our firm for income tax purposes; and
• Why did IRD not check whether a return had been filed?
In relation to the first part of this complaint, people engage tax agents to look after their tax affairs for good reason. Writing directly to clients of tax agents undermines the tax agent / client relationship. We are seeing more of this happen. In this regard our questions are:
• Why do IRD feel they can write directly to clients of tax agents when there is no evidence the tax agent is not actively ensuring the client’s tax affairs are up to date; and
• If IRD think it is appropriate to go around the linked tax agent, why the Commissioner does not inform tax agents that it is the Department’s practice to do so; and if it is
• Why the Commissioner believes undermining the tax agent relationship is consistent with encouraging voluntary compliance, and further, how is going behind the agency relationship consistent with protecting the integrity of the tax system?
Either the Department wants to encourage taxpayers to comply with their tax obligations, and thus seek assistance of a tax agent when appropriate, or the Department wants to dissuade people from using tax agents? If the former, then Inland Revenue needs to stop bypassing tax agents when an issue arises with a tax agent’s client. Overall, this growing practice is not consistent with upholding integrity of our tax system.
On the second part of the complaint, as our client had filed their return by this date, the attached letter clearly showed that IRD had not checked this.
In summary
The Department’s approach of communicating and corresponding directly with a linked tax agent’s clients (i.e. going to a tax agent’s client without the tax agent’s knowledge) undermines the agency relationship and we would appreciate an explanation as to why IRD did not seek to write to us as the tax agent in the first instance.
Clearly, not only had the Department not checked whether this person was linked to a tax agent, they had not even checked to see if a return had been furnished prior to issuing a letter telling a linked taxpayer to file a return by the incorrect filing date of 7 July.
The quick, cheap data down load and post straight to the linked tax agent represented taxpayer approach without checking key facts undermines the tax agent relationship, is not consistent with encouraging voluntary compliance and is not consistent with the Commissioner’s statutory duties to up hold the integrity of the tax system.

Responses to a limited circulation of issues in February 2018

I support any action we can take to minimize the huge amount of duplicated and even sometime triplicated paperwork we are receiving from IRD.
The fact that they bypass us and go to the client directly, is annoying and put us in a bad light with our clients as the clients are paying us and are expecting us to be the go- between them and IRD. The reason they are with us, is exactly that they do not want to deal or have any contact with the IRD

Fully support what you are doing.  I have had discussions with my IRD Agent Account Manager on this matter and got nowhere.  Between all the scams and the texts and emails from IRD that are being generated and a lot  of which are wrong, IRD correspondence via myIR and the email alerts I get everyday and then the correspondence is in the post also it is a nightmare.
I tell my clients to tell IRD callers to ring us as we are their tax agent and will deal with it, and who knows whether it is a legit call or a scam.  Same when IRD phone for personal information on clients I ask for it in writing as how do we know if they are ringing from IRD.  All these government agencies including IRD go on about the privacy act and then they are on the phone trying to short cut it themselves.

This is a total nightmare for us too.
So frustrating when they get the tax wrong because it’s based on a provisional assessment that doesn’t reflect reality eg based on 2016, we’ve filed 2017 which has changed 2018, but 2017 isn’t processed.
Or harassing a client for a period that’s overdue when there are credits in other accounts.
Or any of the other reasons they get things wrong.
Great to get a co-ordinated message together for IRD.

Here’s some pertinent feedback from one of my clients:
“I had a call from the IRD asking about the outstanding $8,000 GST debt and was I aware of it! I explained what was happening with the tax finance and that we were awaiting for a response on a special request for a tax account transfer. He said he was making some notes on the file regarding this.
“Not sure why he came to me direct, since I have a tax agent but this is just to let you know that they were in touch.”

Totally agreed, it wastes our time and undermines our client confidence in us, especially in the case of filing reminders.
One thing I do find useful, the payment reminders or overdue notices, do have a value in keeping ‘bad planner’ clients aware of their obligations.
Having said that, if it was that or nothing, I would rather it was nothing where I have ticked CORRESPONDENCE TO AGENT.

I agree.
Where a tax agent is involved the historic process was for IRD to deal with the agent.
There has been no formal proposal put to tax agents or their representatives that I am aware of – just action in bypassing agents.
That wastes everyone’s time particularly when wrong.  It causes unnecessary concern with clients who think we are not doing our job.
IRD approach is counterproductive as it fosters a breakdown in the working relationship between agents and IRD – which is necessary for the good working of the tax system as a whole.