2002-03 Annual Report, Inland Revenue Department
(Text Only)

Commissioner's Overview

Collecting revenue efficiently and cost-effectively has always been one of our missions. As a result of the continuing economic downturn and the growing budget deficits in the recent years, efficiency and cost-effectiveness have been placed on the top of the agenda across the government. In order to provide quality services to the public and achieve efficiency savings, the Department continued to enhance its e-services during the year through the adoption of advanced information technology.

As early as 1993, the Department has accepted payment by phone as an alternative means of settling tax payment because of its simplicity, convenience and timeliness to the public. Within a decade, e-payment has prospered and now taxpayers can choose to settle their tax liabilities by a variety of electronic means – by telephone, bank ATM or the Internet. A continuous growth has been recorded for e-payments. During 2002-03, 50% of the payment transactions under Earnings and Profits Tax were made through electronic means. The increasing popularity in e-payments, coupled with the outsourcing of the collection service to the Post Office, enabled us to close the two sub-offices in Kowloon and Tsuen Wan with effect from 1 August 2003, resulting in staff savings of 18 posts.

Following e-payment, the Department is actively developing and promoting e-filing and e-enquiry services. Since January 2001, the Department has been accepting e-filing of Tax Returns – Individuals and Property Tax Returns, as well as e-enquiries on the Internet by holders of digital certificates under Government's Electronic Service Delivery (ESD) Scheme. In April 2002, the e-Forms for Profits Tax Returns and the TeleTax were launched. Taxpayers can now file their Profits Tax Returns through e-mail on the Internet. Those who cannot access the Internet can register as a TeleTax user and make use of a "Taxpayer Identification Number" (TIN) and a password to make enquiries on their personal tax affairs at any time through a touch-tone phone.

The benefits of e-services are obvious. To the taxpayers, they can discharge their obligations in the filing of tax returns or payment of tax any time and anywhere. They can have instant answers to questions frequently raised without the need to contact our officers during office hours. As for the Department, the automated services can reduce the workload of the front-line staff by improving our efficiency in the processing of tax returns, tax payments and tax enquiries.

In February 2003, the Inland Revenue (Amendment) Bill, which sought to provide a legal basis for the use of passwords and telephones in filing tax returns, was passed by the Legislative Council. Starting from April 2003, new e-filing services, which allow the filing of tax returns by telephone (Telefiling) and the use of passwords in on-line filing, have been introduced. Individual taxpayers, by applying as TeleTax users and registering passwords of their own choice, may choose to use passwords, as an alternative to digital certificates, for authentication in the filing of Tax Returns – Individuals and Property Tax Returns under the ESD Scheme or through a touch-tone phone. Introduction of the new services provides taxpayers with easier and more convenient alternatives for lodging tax returns electronically.

Under active preparation is the e-stamping system. It will be introduced in 2004-05 to automate simple assignment and tenancy cases. While the enhancement is expected to improve the efficiency of our services to the public further, it will also achieve savings in the time and manpower required for the processing of documents and increase our operational efficiency.

The gainful use of information technology and business re-engineering are keys to enhancing efficiency and cost-effectiveness. The Department's strategic task force has completed its study on re-engineering plans and recommended the setting up of 3 centralized centres, namely the Document Processing Centre, Output Despatch Centre and Tax Record Centre, to achieve higher productivity, efficiency and economies of scale. The reorganization will take place in early 2004 and is expected to bring about staff savings of over 60 posts.

It is our aim to build a more versatile Department with a leaner structure, higher efficiency and better working environment. To this end, we shall develop system enhancements, implement re-engineering plans and, most important of all, devote more resources to upkeep and raise the professionalism of our staff.

People is the most valuable asset in every successful organization. I would like to extend my thanks to all my colleagues for the commitment, dedication, professionalism and teamwork they have shown in performing their duties during the year. The Department has achieved or even exceeded the targets in most of our pledges in 2002-03. Three of our staff have also won individual awards from the Ombudsman.

Apart from their dedication to official duties, I am proud of the serving-the-community spirit shown by my colleagues in performing voluntary services after their working hours. The IRD Volunteer Team was set up in May 2002. In less than a year's time, the team has organized or participated in a number of voluntary services offered to the aged, the sick and those in need.

Thanks to the support of all my colleagues, members of other departments and various professional bodies, IRD got through a successful year and will, again, serve with devotion and strive for perfection in the coming year.

LAU MAK Yee-ming, Alice, J.P.
Commissioner of Inland Revenue

Vision, Mission and Values | Contents | Commissioner's Overview | Revenue | Assessing Functions | Collection | Field Audit and Investigation | Taxpayer Services | Information Technology | Human Resources | Legislative Amendments | Environment Report | Miscellaneous | Schedules |

Homepage | Publications and Press Releases | Annual Report | 中文版年報 (Chinese Version)

(Last updated/reviewed : February 3, 2003)