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Revenue Service continues to make progress in reducing tax returns backlog

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Monday 11 July 2022

The Revenue Service is making progress in reducing the backlog of tax returns, and continues to source additional skilled temporary staff to speed this up further.

Currently 94% of 2018 personal returns, 80% of 2019 personal returns and 28% of 2020 personal returns have been assessed. With 84% of 2018 company returns, 69% of 2019 company returns and 24% of 2020 company returns assessed. The service continues to prioritise 2018 and 2019 returns before focussing on 2020 returns, with the backlog for those earlier years due to be processed before the end of the year.

2018 Returns
 As at Dec '21As at July '22
Personal93%94%
Employed/pensioners92%93%
Self-employed, non-residents, complex cases96%98%
Companies77%84%

 

2019 Returns
 As at Dec '21As at July '22
Personal68%80%
Employed/pensioners68%78%
Self-employed, non-residents, complex cases69%91%
Companies60%69%

 

2020 Returns
 As at July '22
Personal28%
Employed/pensioners24%
Self-employed, non-residents, complex cases55%
Companies24%

 

In total, this means since December last year, over 5,800 customers have now received assessments for 2018 and 2019 following processing of their return.

The former members of staff of the Revenue Service that have been enlisted to provide additional technical support, together with the existing staff in our Assessing Teams have made significant progress in bringing the returns for self-employed and more complex cases up to date. Those resources will now be refocussed on the returns for employed and pensioners.

The Service also reached out to local accountants to identify resources who could be seconded to assist. These seconded resources have been engaged to process returns for companies and together with our existing Assessing Teams, have achieved significant progress.

It has been challenging for the Service to find external resources to assist in processing individual returns for those who are employed and/or pensioners.  One provider engaged by the Service was unable to provide the resource previously offered. However, the Service is continuing to look at options to resource this work.

The Revenue Service continues to undergo a large technological transformation and staff are working hard to modernise the Island's tax administration.  Recently the Service's Transformation Programme delivered a new automated assessment functionality. This passes data from completed online personal tax returns through a rules engine, at which point either an assessment is created, or the return is flagged for internal review. This is a significant technological enhancement to the Service's systems and not only will create new and lasting efficiencies for the Service in processing returns, thereby improving customer satisfaction, but also aligns the Service with other modern tax administrations across the globe. 

The transformation also includes making the internal processes of dealing with tax returns more efficient, as well as improving customer experience. The Service has already seen a favourable uplift in customer satisfaction with the online personal tax return improved for 2021 tax year - of customers that completed the satisfaction survey after lodging their return, 90% rated the experience good or very good.

All online 2020 and 2021 personal tax returns will be processed through the new automated assessment process, albeit in stages to ensure the Service can support any customer queries that may arise.

The Service recognises that there have been significant delays in customers receiving their assessments and thanks customers for their ongoing patience. Addressing the delays remains a priority for the Service to address. For clarity, the delays do not impact significantly on the collection of revenues to fund the provision of public services as the majority of tax is collected through withholding tax deducted from employment and some pension payment (the ETI scheme).

Sarah Davies, Head of Service Delivery for Revenue Service said

"We understand that our customers are frustrated at the delay and we apologise for this. The Service is doing its best to get through as many returns as we can, which is why we've brought in this additional support so that we get through assessments faster, especially as we are now starting to see improvements from the teams' efforts in the huge task of documenting our existing processes which has enabled the creation of the new automated risk and assessment system.

We would like to ask customers not to follow up with us on the progress of their return at this time, unless they have an urgent enquiry, so that we can focus our efforts on getting assessments done. We will provide you with your assessment as soon as we possibly can and we thank you for your patience."

The Revenue Service will be publishing quarterly updates on processing of tax returns on their website going forward.  These can be found on our Tax Review Backlog Statistics page.

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