2000-01 Annual Report, Inland Revenue Department
(Text Only)

Taxpayer Services

 

IRD Homepage | IRD Info Touch | Enquiry Service through Internet | Telephone and Counter Enquiry Services | Outreaching Taxpayer Services and Extended Telephone Enquiry Services | Complaints | Performance Pledge


The Department aims to provide service of a high standard to the public. Particular emphasis is placed on making relevant information readily available to taxpayers. Various means are used, such as the Internet, "Info Touch" information kiosks and an interactive telephone answering system. During the course of the year, steps were taken to review and enhance these services.


IRD Homepage

http://www.info.gov.hk/ird

The IRD Homepage is an important means of disseminating information concerning the Department. By visiting the homepage, members of the public can gain access to a wide range of tax information and also download tax forms and software developed by the Department to submit employer's return. In addition, the public can also compute their Salaries Tax liabilities through an interactive application on the homepage.

The content of the homepage has been regularly expanded. In order to facilitate the completion of tax return form, a demonstration guide was placed on the homepage in May 2000, together with "Common Enquiries and Answers" on the topic. As at 31 March 2001, the information available through the homepage was equivalent to 3,000 'A4' size pages (an increase of 20% over the previous year). During the year, the homepage was 'visited' more than 1,260,000 times. This represents an increase of some 58% over the previous year.


IRD Info Touch

The Department has 5 multi-media information kiosks, set up in Revenue Tower, Mongkok Government Office and Tsuen Wan Sub-office, to provide members of the public with tax information through screen touching.

The number of users in 2000-01 was 26,674 and the most frequently accessed enquiry category was "Salaries Tax Computation".


Enquiry Service through Internet

During the year, the Department actively participated in the Government's Electronic Service Delivery (ESD) scheme, which aims to provide government services to the public through electronic means. Since December 2000, as part of the scheme, individual taxpayers have been able to make enquiries in respect of their own tax files through the use of Internet and public kiosk facilities.


Telephone and Counter Enquiry Services

The Department's Enquiry Service Centre handles telephone and counter enquiries. The Centre, equipped with computer network, aims at providing an immediate "one-stop" service as far as possible.

The Centre makes use of an Interactive Telephone Enquiry System with 120 telephone lines. Callers can, on a 24-hour basis, gain access to a wide range of tax information by listening to recorded messages or obtaining facsimile copies of the information and forms. A leave-and-call-back facility is available. Callers are able to speak to enquiry officers during office hours.

Over 1.64 million telephone calls were answered by the Centre during the year (Figure 35). The number of calls answered by staff increased by 5.6%, as compared with the previous year (Figure 36). The increase was attributable to the redeployment of staff to strengthen operator services when required.

Figure 35 Number of telephone calls answered
Telephone calls 1999-2000 2000-01
Answered by staff 642,751 678,751
Answered by system 773,462 967,867
Total 1,416,213 1,646,550

Figure 36 Telephone Enquiries
Telephone Enquiries 1999-2000 2000-01 Increase / Decrease
Number of calls answered by staff 642,751 678,683 +5.6%
Number of enquiries answered by staff 748,749 804,423 +7.4%
Numner of calls answered by system 773,462 967,867 +25.1%
Number of leave-and-call back messages 56,465 75,517 +33.7%
Number of fax supplied by the system 33,589 25,712 -23.5%


Counter staff of the Centre are generally able to handle enquiries, collect mail and issue forms without the need to refer to other officers in the Department. A taxpayer service team with professionally qualified staff is also stationed in the Centre. The members of this team handle more complex cases. As other enquiry channels become increasingly popular, the number of counter enquiries decreased by 13.6%, as compared with the previous year (Figure 37).

Figure 37 Counter Enquiries
Counter Enquiries 1999-2000 2000-01
Number of callers 372,904 314,255
Number of enquiries 708,713 612,269


To make it easier for taxpayers to obtain tax information and forms, two form stands were installed during the year; one on the ground floor and the other on the first floor of the Revenue Tower.


Outreaching Taxpayer Services and Extended Telephone Enquiry Services

To assist taxpayers in completing tax returns, the Department set up temporary enquiry centres in three schools, located at Causeway Bay, Mongkok and Tuen Mun, and also in the Wong Tai Sin Community Centre and Citylink Plaza, in the afternoons of 20 and 21 May 2000. The Department's Enquiry Service Centre and the Kowloon and Tsuen Wan sub?offices were also open during the same period to provide enquiry services. In addition, the Department's Enquiry Service Centre was open for two extra Saturday afternoons, on 13 and 27 May, to facilitate taxpayers in making enquiries. To further strengthen the enquiry service, the Department extended hours during which the telephone enquiry service was manned in May, until 7 p.m. from Monday to Friday and on Saturday to 5 p.m. These services were made possible through some 500 staff volunteering to meet public demand beyond normal duty hours.


Complaints

If a taxpayer is dissatisfied with the services provided by the Department or cannot solve his or her problem satisfactorily through normal channels, the Complaints Officer may be approached for assistance. The complaint channel provides taxpayers with the means of having individual grievances dealt with independently at a senior level. This ensures that such cases are properly handled in a fair and unbiased manner. During 2000-01, 566 complaints cases were received (Figure 38). This represents a decrease of 8%, as compared with the previous year.

Figure 38 Complaint cases
Complaint cases 1999-2000 2000-01
Not Substantiated 233 277
Partially Substantiated 249 202
Substantiated 132 87
Total 614 566

If a taxpayer is dissatisfied with any administrative action taken by the Department, the person concerned may refer the matter to the Ombudsman. During the year, the Ombudsman sought written comments from the Department in respect of 19 such cases. In the light of these cases, the Department has reviewed relevant operations with a view to improving them. In recognition of its positive attitude towards complaints, the Department was presented with the Ombudsman's "Grand Award". This was the third occasion on which the Department had won the award. Two officers of the Enquiry Service Centre also won individual awards from the Ombudsman.


Performance Pledge

The service standards a taxpayer can expect from the Department are set out in the Performance Pledge. Through the performance pledge programme, a customer-oriented culture has been taking a strong hold within the Department.

Results of Performance Pledge
Service Target Achievement
Counter enquiries
attended to within 10 minutes (in peak times)
95% 99.4%
Telephone enquiries
answered within 3 minutes (in peak period)
70% 88.2%
Written enquiries - simple matters
replied within 10 working days
99% 100%
Written enquiries - technical matters
replied within 25 working days
96% 99.9%
Returns processing - Profits tax returns
assessed within 9 months
80% 85%
Returns processing - Property tax returns
assessed within 9 months
96% 98.7%
Returns processing - Composite tax returns
assessed within 9 months
96% 99.2%
Tax returns for first-time - Profits tax taxpayers
issued within 3 months
(New pledge from 1.4.2000)
98% 100%
Tax returns for first-time - Salaries taxpayers
issued within 5 months (in peak period)
98% 100%
Request for issuance of Notice of No Objection for Company Deregistration
processed within 25 working days
(New pledge from 1.4.2000)
98% 99.9%
Tax reserve certificate transactions
processed within 14 working days (in peak period)
98% 99.7%
Acknowledgements of objection
processed within 21 working days (in peak period)
95% 99.8%
Processing of objections
processed within 4 months
98% 100%
Applications for holdover of provisional tax
processed within 14 working days
95% 99.5%
Issue receipts for tax payments made by electronic means
issued within 7 working days
(The 2000-01 enhanced target.)
98% 100%
Refunds arising from overpayment of tax
made within 25 working days
(The 2000-01 enhanced target.)
98% 99.5%
Refunds arising from revision of assessment
made within 30 working days
100% 100%
Tax audit and investigation
processed within 2 years
80% 94.4%
Assignments and sale and purchase agreements
stamped within 6 working days
98% 100%
Application for deferred payment of Stamp Duty on agreements for sale of residential property
processed within 6 working days
(New pledge from 1.4.2000)
98% 100%
Contract notes and lease agreements
stamped on the same day
98% 99.9%
Claims for exemption (for transfers between group companies)
processed within 3 months
(The 2000-01 enhanced target.)
80% 86.3%
New business registration certificates -
Application over the counter
issued within 30 minutes
(The 1999-2000 target was to complete 98% "within 4 working days".)
97% 99.9%
New business registration certificates -
Application by post
issued within 2 working days
(The 1999-2000 target was to complete 98% "within 4 working days".)
99% 100%
Extracts information of business registration
issued within 4 working days
(The 2000-01 enhanced target.)
99% 100%
Change of business registration particulars
updated within 10 working days
99% 100%
Estate duty affidavits / statements in lieu of affidavit
dutiable or complicated cases finalized within 3 years
90% 92.7%


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(Last updated/reviewed : February 18, 2002)