22 December 2017
The Taxes Office has announced that it will complete all assessments received for 2016 returns by mid-January 2018.
This announcement follows a statement in October reporting that 79% of assessments had been completed (14% behind where the Taxes Office would usually have been), due to a redeployment of key staff and time spent training new staff. The team have now closed this gap to 6%, but this still means that 1,500 Islanders, specifically those who pay tax contributions via ITIS towards their current (rather than prior) year liability, will not have received their actual assessment for 2016. They will receive a temporary 2018 ITIS effective rate based on their last assessed tax bill.
A further small number of taxpayers who have received their assessment have yet to receive a 2018 ITIS effective rate to give to their employer: this is because they need their rate calculated manually. These are commonly cases with a significant change in financial circumstances during 2017, and have occurred as an unexpected consequence of prioritising 2016 assessments over other tasks.
For these cases, to avoid any employee’s rate defaulting to 21%, employers will receive correspondence from the Comptroller of Taxes. The letter instructs employers to apply employees’ December 2017 rate to the January deduction in cases where a new effective rate has not yet been issued by the Taxes Office. All new effective rates will be issued by the end of January, in time for February payroll processing, so this will only apply to January 2018 salary payments. Employees are therefore urged to give their 2018 effective rates into their employers promptly upon receipt.
The Taxes Office also wants to draw ITIS ‘current year’ taxpayers’ attention to a default message at the bottom of their assessment telling them the balance is payable. This message, which alarmed some taxpayers, cannot be adjusted due to the limitations of the States’ current computer software. However, assessors have typed a note toward the top right of the assessment page which tells taxpayers whether they should disregard the message. Taxpayers are asked to check their assessment carefully.
The Comptroller of Taxes, Richard Summersgill, commented on the current service difficulties: “I apologise for the shortfall in our services. All our tax officers are acutely aware that the service we can currently offer is way below the digitally enabled standards that people encounter in other spheres of life. We are making plans to transform their experience of the Taxes Office, ultimately meaning that, from 2020, taxpayers will be able to submit their returns and receive their tax assessments and ITIS rates online, within minutes rather than months. We will begin communicating with the public about this from spring 2018, once we are fully underway with the change programme.
“In the meantime, we are also making changes to some current processes. For instance, we installed a new Mitel telephone call management system last month, and are very pleased to report that an average of 250 calls are answered per day, with the average wait time now one minute and four seconds. There are, without question, a couple of tough years ahead for all our staff, but we look forward to the positive impact our transformation programme will have on our efficiency, our professional standards and our customers’ experience in the months and years ahead.”