1999-2000 Annual Report, Inland Revenue Department
IRD Home Page | IRD Info Touch | Enquiry Service Centre | Outreaching Taxpayer Services and Extended Telephone Enquiry Services | Complaints | Performance Pledge
The Department aims at providing quality service to the public. Particular emphasis was 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 Home Page
Through the IRD Home Page, the Department provides members of the public with access to a wide range of tax information. In addition, the Home Page can be used to download various tax forms and the software developed by the Department to submit employer's return. The public can also compute their Salaries Tax liabilities through the interactive application on the Home Page.
To provide better service to the public and to improve the transparency of the Department, there has been continuous expansion in the scope and enrichment in the contents of the Department's Home Page. As at 31 March 2000, the information available through the Home Page was equivalent to 2,500 pages of ‘A4’ size (an increase of 32% over the previous year). The number of access in 1999-2000 was over 800,000. This represents a substantial increase of some 170% over the previous year.
IRD Info Touch
The 5 multi-media information kiosks set up in Revenue Tower, Mongkok Government Office and Tsuen Wan Sub-office provide the public with a wide-range of tax-related information through screen touching.
The number of users in 1999-2000 was 42,952 and the most frequently accessed enquiry was "Salaries Tax Computation".
Enquiry Service Centre
The Enquiry Service Centre of the Department handles telephone and counter enquiries. The Centre, equipped with computer network, aims at providing an immediate one-stop shop service as far as possible.
During the year, the Centre upgraded its Interactive Telephone Enquiry System to provide more services and to increase the number of telephone lines to 120. Callers can, on a 24-hour basis, access a wide range of tax information by listening to recorded messages or obtaining facsimile copies of the information and forms. Leave-and-call-back facility is available. Callers can opt to speak to enquiry officers during office hours.
Over 1.4 million telephone calls were answered by the Centre during the year (Figure 37). The number of calls answered by staff increased by 7%, as compared with the previous year (Figure 38). The increase was attributable to the redeployment of staff to strengthen operator services when required.
|Answered by staff||599,213||642,751|
|Answered by system||809,734||773,462|
|Telephone Enquiries||1998-99||1999-2000||Increase / Decrease|
|Number of calls answered by staff||599,213||642,751||+7.3%|
|Number of enquiries answered by staff||708,648||748,749||+5.7%|
|Numner of calls answered by system||809,734||773,462||-4.5%|
|Number of leave-and-call back messages||55,996||56,465||+0.8%|
|Number of fax supplied by the system||33,360||33,589||+0.7%|
Counter staff of the Centre are pleased to provide callers with convenient service, generally without the need to refer to other officers in the Department. Starting from the year, a taxpayer service team comprising of professional staff was added to the Centre. They handle more complex and referral cases. As more enquiries were made through other channels, the number of counter enquiries decreased by 10.3%, as compared with the previous year (Figure 39).
The Department also has a Receipt and Despatch Centre to facilitate the receipt of mails and the issue of forms. To enhance our services to the public, a large size electronic display board was installed at the Centre to disseminate the latest information and various services of the Department.
|Number of callers||416,269||372,904|
|Number of enquiries||789,820||708,713|
Outreaching Taxpayer Services and Extended Telephone Enquiry Services
For the convenience of those taxpayers who were not free to visit the temporary enquiry centres, the Department had extended the service hours to 7 p.m. in answering telephone enquiries and set up a new helpline in May 1999 to provide assistance in the completion of tax returns. These new initiatives were made possible because some 300 staff volunteered to meet public demand beyond normal duty hours.
Taxpayers who are dissatisfied with the services provided by the Department or cannot solve their problems satisfactorily through the normal channels may approach the Complaints Officer for assistance. The complaint channel provides taxpayers the means of having individual grievances dealt with at a senior level independently. This ensures that the cases are properly handled in a fair and unbiased manner. During 1999-2000, 614 complaints cases were received (Figure 40). This represents a decrease of 1% as compared with the previous year.
If taxpayers are dissatisfied with the administrative action of the Department, they may refer the matter to the Ombudsman. During the year, the Ombudsman sought written comments from the Department on 19 cases. In the light of these cases, the Department has reviewed relevant operations with a view to improving them. In recognition of the positive attitude of the Department’s officers in handling complaints, the Ombudsman presented the Ombudsman Awards 2000 to 3 officers of the Department.
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% 86.6% Written enquiries - simple matters
replied within 10 working days 99% 100% Written enquiries - technical matters
replied within 25 working days 96% 99.7% Returns processing - Profits tax returns
assessed within 9 months 80% 84.9% Returns processing - Property tax returns
assessed within 9 months 96% 98.5% Returns processing - Composite tax returns
assessed within 9 months 96% 98.9% Tax returns for first-time salaries taxpayers issued within 5 months 98% 100% Tax reserve certificate transactions processed within 14 working days (in peak period) 98% 99.1% Acknowledgements of objection replied within 14 working days (in peak period) 95% 99.8% Processing of objections processed within 4 months 98% 99.9% Applications for holdover of provisional tax processed within 14 working days 95% 99.5% Issue receipts for tax payments made by electronic means processed within 7 working days
(New pledge from 1.4.1999.)
95% 100% Refunds arising from overpayment of tax
made within 25 working days 96% 98.7% Refunds arising from revision of assessment
made within 30 working days 100% 100% Tax investigation processed within 2 years 70% 84.0% Assignments and sale and purchase agreements
stamped within 6 working days 98% 99.9% 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 70% 82.3% New business registration certificates issued within 4 working days
The 1998-99 target was to complete 90% “within 6 working days”.
98% 100% Certified true copies of business registration records issued within 4 working days 96% 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% 93.2%
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