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Guernsey Striving To Slash Tax Return Backlog

by Jason Gorringe, Tax-News.com, London

28 December 2012


Guernsey's Income Tax Office has reported that a new initiative aimed at reducing the backlog of tax returns has been successful.

During a recently-concluded pilot scheme, the Income Tax Office closed phone lines on Thursdays, and closed the public counter for part of this day to allow staff extra time to examine returns and issue assessments.

According to the government, at the start of the trial period there were 10,779 returns from individuals in Guernsey and Alderney received but not assessed. Following the scheme, this has now been reduced to 7,226. By the end of the pilot scheme, at the end of November, over 80% of submitted returns had been assessed, compared with 63% at the start of the trial period.

Rob Gray, the Director of Income Tax, commented: "Unfortunately the backlog of work from last year, combined with resourcing difficulties following resignations and other staff movements, has had a knock-on effect this year. The trial has had a very positive impact on the backlog of returns waiting to be assessed, with over 3,200 assessments issued (approximately 250 each Thursday) during the trial period that the office was closed to telephone calls."

Given the success of its initiative, the Income Tax Office plans to implement the program during the first quarter of 2013. The Income Tax Office admitted that going forward backlogs are inevitable, particularly given that the bulk of annual returns are received during the first quarter of the year, and almost three-quarters by the end of May, but it hopes to mitigate delays.

The Income Tax Office also welcomed the increased adoption this year of electronic filing methods by taxpayers, which reduces the administrative burden on the agency. The agency received over 11,500 returns online in 2012, of which 30% were automatically assessed, compared with 3,750 e-forms in 2011.

TAGS: individuals | compliance | tax | tax compliance | Guernsey | offshore | Alderney

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