2001-02 Annual Report, Inland Revenue Department
(Text Only)

Taxpayer Services

 

IRD Homepage | IRD Info Touch | Electronic Enquiry Services | 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. A number of information pamphlets on common issues of concern were also issued.

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, tax pamphlets and software developed by the Department for submitting employer's return. In addition, the public can also compute their Salaries Tax liabilities through an interactive application on the homepage.

The contents of the homepage have been expanded. During the year, the IRD Homepage has put on a new look. To enhance accessibility by the public, about 5,000 'A4' size pages (an increase of 60% over the previous year) of tax information was re-structured under 7 headings. In order to facilitate the completion of tax return form, a demonstration guide was placed on the homepage in May 2001, together with comprehensive "Common Enquiries and Answers" on the topic. During the year, more than 5,030,000 'visits' were made to the homepage, representing an increase of some 300% 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 2001-02 was 26,429 and the most frequently accessed enquiry category was "Salaries Tax Computation".

Electronic Enquiry Services

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. In 2001-02, individual taxpayers with digital certificates could make enquiries in respect of their own tax files through the use of the Internet and public kiosk facilities.

To provide the public with a wider range of tax enquiry service and to offer the convenience of electronic services to those who do not have access to the Internet, TeleTax is launched in April 2002. By using a "Taxpayer Identification Number" (TIN) and a password for authentication, individual registered user can check his personal tax information anytime through a touch-tone phone.

With his TIN and password, a taxpayer can also enquire about his personal tax information through the enquiry services under the ESD scheme.


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 1.59 million telephone calls were answered by the Centre during the year (Figure 35). The number of calls answered by staff was 0.68 million. This represented a slight increase of 0.7%, 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 2000-01 2001-02
Answered by staff 678,751 683,719
Answered by system 967,867 908,876
Total 1,646,550 1,592,595

Figure 36 Telephone Enquiries
Telephone Enquiries 2000-01 2001-02 Increase / Decrease
Number of calls answered by staff 678,683 683,719 +0.7%
Number of enquiries answered by staff 804,423 811,322 +0.9%
Numner of calls answered by system 967,867 908,876 -6.1%
Number of leave-and-call back messages 75,517 84,533 +11.9%
Number of fax supplied by the system 25,712 20,564 -20.0%


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 0.6%, as compared with the previous year (Figure 37).

 

Figure 37 Counter Enquiries
Counter Enquiries 2000-01 2000-02
Number of callers 314,255 297,617
Number of enquiries 612,269 608,389


To make it easier for taxpayers to obtain tax information pamphlets and forms, two form stands are installed; 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's Enquiry Service Centre at the Revenue Tower as well as the Kowloon and Tsuen Wan sub-offices were open in the afternoons of 26 and 27 May 2001 (Saturday & Sunday) to provide enquiry services after office hours. 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 Mondays to Fridays and 5 p.m. on Saturdays. These services were made possible through some 500 staff volunteering to serve the public 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 2001-02, 550 complaints cases were received (Figure 38). This represents a decrease of 3%, as compared with the previous year.

Figure 38 Complaint cases
Complaint cases 2000-01 2001-02
Not Substantiated 277 267
Partially Substantiated 202 196
Substantiated 87 87
Total 566 550

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 24 cases. In the light of these cases, the Department has reviewed relevant operations with a view to improving them.

There were 91 Letters of Compliments received during the year. Three officers of the Department 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. From April 2001 onwards, the Department has introduced 6 enhanced pledges on telephone enquiries, written enquiries, notice of objection, tax holdover claims, refunds of tax and business registration. In recognition of the extent of achievement and improvement made in service standards and service quality, the Department was awarded an Honourable Mention by Efficiency Unit, the Government of the HKSAR during the year.

Results of Performance Pledge
Service Target Achievement
Counter enquiries
attended to within 10 minutes (in peak times)
95% 98.9%
Telephone enquiries
answered within 3 minutes (in peak period)
80% 83.8%
Written enquiries - simple matters
replied within 10 working days
99% 100%
Written enquiries - technical matters
replied within 25 working days
98% 99.9%
Returns processing - Profits tax returns
assessed within 9 months
80% 87.3%
Returns processing - Property tax returns
assessed within 9 months
96% 98.9%
Returns processing - Composite tax returns
assessed within 9 months
96% 99.2%
Tax returns for first-time - Profits tax taxpayers
issued within 3 months
98% 100%
Tax returns for first-time - Salaries taxpayers
issued within 5 months
98% 99.9%
Request for issuance of Notice of No Objection for Company Deregistration
processed within 25 working days
98% 99.9%
Tax reserve certificate transactions
processed within 14 working days (in peak period)
98% 99.8%
Acknowledgements of objection
processed within 21 working days (in peak period)
98% 99.9%
Processing of objections
processed within 4 months
98% 100%
Applications for holdover of provisional tax
processed within 14 working days
98% 99.8%
Issue receipts for tax payments made by electronic means
issued within 7 working days
98% 100%
Refunds arising from overpayment of tax
made within 25 working days
98% 99.5%
Refunds arising from revision of assessment
made within 25 working days
98% 100%
Tax audit and investigation
processed within 2 years
80% 91.9%
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
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
80% 90.8%
New business registration certificates -
Application over the counter
issued within 30 minutes
97% 99.9%
New business registration certificates -
Application by post
issued within 2 working days
99% 100%
Extracts information of business registration
issued within 2 working days
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% 92.6%


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(Last updated/reviewed : January 13, 2003)