Employing Information Technology
Accomplishing Performance Pledge
Targets
Inland Revenue Department

Exemplary Services@Gov
2009

The Inland Revenue Department (IRD) is one of the first government departments to offer performance pledges to the public. Its scope of services have been extended from the initial 13 items in 8 categories to the present 28 items in 15 categories, covering IRD's major services to the public. This year, the newly added performance pledge items are electronic stamp duty service, the issue of electronic receipts to taxpayers, and handling complaint cases. Over the years, the targets pledged for most services have been achieved. In a number of items, IRD's services even exceeded the pledged standard.s

Tax services have been brought into a new era since the launch of eTAX in 2008. It encourages taxpayers to file tax returns, pay taxes, check personal tax positions and update personal particulars via the Internet. Currently, over 270,000 taxpayers have opened their eTAX accounts. Mrs Virginia GREEN, former Assistant Commissioner of the Inland Revenue, said, "We are taxpayers, too. Every time when we examine our department's performance pledges, we would empathically consider public demands with an aim to provide more efficient services.

Reviewing Service Effectiveness and Serving the Public with Customer-Oriented Spirit

The IRD attaches much importance to public opinions. Each complaint case is followed up independently by a senior officer in order to ensure all of them are handled in a fair and unbiased manner. Ms LAM Fung-shan, Senior Assessor, said, "As early as 1978, our department already had Complaints Officers to specifically handle complaints from the public. Ever since launching the Performance Pledge in 1993, the Department has included results of complaints handling in its Performance Pledge Annual Report. This year, complaints handling has been formally included in our Performance Pledge. Generally speaking, enquiries will be answered immediately if the information needed is already stored in the computer. In other situations, we will issue an interim reply within seven days and a substantive reply within 15 days.

The IRD issues over 2 million tax returns each year. In an effort to improve work efficiency, the IRD introduced the Document Management System in 2003. Subsequently, the launch of the Workflow Management System, which enables the Department to respond promptly to public enquiries, followed in 2006. Mr Vincent CHIU, Chief Assessor, said, "In the past, our colleagues often had to refer to paper file records before answering and verifying enquiries from the public. The new systems enable them to check records and handle cases speedily, thus tremendously reducing the time required for processing cases."

Constantly Reviewing Service Standards

Since implementing the Performance Pledge, the IRD has specifically invited legal practitioners, accountants and academic professionals from various sectors of the community to form an independent IRD Users' Committee to monitor its various services and provide opinions. Members of the Committee visit IRD's frontline staff to understand their work procedures, listen to their views and offer them improvement suggestions. At the same time, the IRD's departmental Service Standards Committee submits quarterly reports to the Users' Committee with plans for improving various services.

Mrs YIP SHAM Yin-har, Chief Assessor, said, "The aim of establishing Users' Committee and Service Standards Committee was to consolidate the comments from the public, professionals and IRD staff in order to achieve service improvement."

The function of the IRD is tax administration, and its major duty is raising revenue through taxes, duties and fees. Left to right (front row): Mrs Virginia GREEN, former Assistant Commissioner, Mrs Alice LAU, Commissioner of Inland Revenue, and Mrs Teresa CHU, Deputy Commissioner of Inland Revenue (Operations). Left to right (back row): Mrs YIP SHAM Yin-har, Chief Assessor, Mr Vincent CHIU, Chief Assessor, and Ms LAM Fung-shan, Senior Assessor.
By adopting the Document Management System and Workflow Management System, the IRD is able to respond to public enquiries speedily.
The e-Stamping Service enables the public to instantly stamp the agreements for sale, transfer assignments and tenancy agreements of their properties via the Internet.
More than 270,000 taxpayers, or about 10% of all taxpayers, have opened an eTAX account, reducing paper consumption effectively.