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Tax officials get alongside small business-people


Tax officials get alongside small business-people

Senior Inland Revenue Department officials will visit small to medium-sized business operators around New Zealand to hear their views on how to simplify the tax system, Associate Minister of Revenue Paul Swain announced this morning.

The visits are part of a major consultation excercise aimed at reducing tax-related compliance costs for small to medium-sized businesses and are an important part of the government’s small and medium-enterprise strategy.

“The government is keen for IRD officials to get alongside small business owners to get an idea of the impact of policies at a practical level,” said Mr Swain. “To do this we need to hear from businesses themselves about the complications and costs the tax system imposes on them, and their views on possible solutions.

“The idea of sending tax officials out to visit small businesses was first suggested by Revenue Minister Michael Cullen after the election,” said Mr Swain. “It came out of discussions myself and Dr Cullen had with small business people.”

There will be 30 visits, which will be completed by the middle of next month. The visits will be targeted at businesses in the regions which have been established in the last few years. “We want to talk to new small businesses to get an idea of the different compliance costs which businesses face as they grow,” said Mr Swain.

As well as the visits the consultation exercise will involve collecting the views of small and medium-sized business people in three other ways:

A series of 15 focus groups, run by an independent research company, in cities and towns around the country. The first focus group was held in Napier on 31 October.

A telephone survey, conducted during December, of more than 2000 small to medium-sized businesses and tax agents.

A web site where taxpayers not consulted in the visits, focus groups or telephone survey can submit their views. This survey is open to anyone who wants to participate and is available from today at http://www.ird.govt.nz

“The information that’s gathered in the consultation will be fed into Inland Revenue’s Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Project,” said Mr Swain. “It will form the basis of a discussion document, scheduled for release in the middle of next year.

“This consultation is part of the government’s SME Strategy, which is being driven by a team of ministers comprising Finance Minister Michael Cullen, Regional Development Minister Jim Anderton, Commerce Minister Lianne Dalziel, Associate Commerce Minister John Tamihere and myself.

“It follows on from the More Time For Business discussion document and the recommendations of the Ministerial Panel on Compliance Costs and is part of an ongoing government programme to simplify the tax system and reduce business compliance costs.

“These are all practical activities whose purpose is to come up with real solutions to real problems that may be hindering the growth of New Zealand’s many smaller businesses,” said Mr Swain. “I appreciate the time that already busy business people will be asked to put into any one of these exercises, but their first-hand knowledge of the effect of tax compliance costs on their business is essential to finding a better way of doing things.”

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