IRD phone lines jammed during peak tax seasonPublish By NZweek News Staff Updated 12/07/2012 5:44 pm in Opinion / no comments
PSA MEDIA RELEASE
12th July 2012
EMBARGO – for use 13th July 2012
Tens of thousands of taxpayer calls to Inland Revenue are going unanswered as public sector cuts take their toll during the peak tax season, according to the Public Service Association.
Information from IRD shows that from 25 June-5 July about 70,000 calls weren’t answered as the Department struggles to cope with increased demand. During that period 164,000 calls were planned for but more than 202,000 were received – of those only about 131,000 were actually answered. There has also been a significant increase in the number of people complaining about the phone service.
“It’s a frustrating situation for the public and for staff but it’s a clear consequence of government budget cuts, poor planning and poor change management,” says PSA National Secretary Richard Wagstaff.
IRD has been undergoing a large restructuring programme which has already seen its workforce slashed by nearly half in several regional sites. It has been creating what it calls ‘virtual jobs’ in metropolitan centres while reducing jobs and services in the provinces.
“What we’re now seeing is that IRD can’t handle peak season requirements and services are clearly being stretched to breaking point,” Mr Wagstaff says.
“Ironically IRD is being forced to take a band-aid approach and is handing work back to the very provincial offices which have been scaled back. That means more pressure on remaining staff in those offices and extra duties which they don’t necessarily have the training or support to carry out.”
Staff engagement surveys at IRD show morale has plummeted.
Richard Wagstaff says “IRD’s top-down management approach doesn’t work. IRD continues to impose unpopular decisions on staff who feel like their concerns are being consistently ignored. Our members warned IRD that these problems would emerge and IRD ignored that advice.”
“In the end it’s the taxpayer who is losing out both by hanging on the end of the phone and paying for what amounts to reduced services.”
The PSA is seeking meetings with IRD to raise issues around the on-going restructuring and the effect on staffing and resourcing.