Tax administration responses to COVID-19: Measures taken to support taxpayers

Many tax administrations have expanded their digital communication channels over recent years, from great digital interaction with the tax administration to direct digital messaging, the use of web chat, social media, mobile applications etc. The increased use of such services, including through efforts to shift taxpayers to these channels, may help in reducing physical contacts (for example through tax offices) and help get speedier responses to taxpayers.

To deal with the particular issues raised by COVID-19, administration may wish to consider putting in place dedicated web pages, media strategies, hotlines (possibly with call-back facilities), changes to mobile applications, the updating of virtual assistants etc. as well as considering how they might get messages out through intermediaries.

Tax administrations may also want to undertake analysis of the different concerns expressed by taxpayers which can feedback into consideration of where additional measures (administration or policy) might be useful. It will also be important to carefully monitor issues with particular services (such as long wait times on telephone lines) and to consider the development of additional messaging (such as FAQs) or one-to-many interventions and, where possible, changes to the times that services are available. Tax administration may also wish to consider whether some staff can be redeployed to assist where there are very high demands on a particular service.

Tax administrations may also wish to consider how the measures that they are taking can be best communicated to digitally disadvantaged taxpayers and how they can be most easily taken up, for example through use of the telephone, fax machines, post or through communication by family members etc.

Enhanced taxpayer services have been put in place, such as increased use of digital channels, dedicated hotlines and longer opening hours of telephone centres where practicable and appropriate. The way of providing services to taxpayers in each Regional Tax Directorate has been reorganised through: email, telephone contacts (published on the tax administration web site), call centre, tax administration website livechat, application of requests from each taxpayer’s electronic filing account and their treatment by taxpayer service employees.

Informative notices and practical usage guidelines and informative videos on how to complete the online form “For obtaining financial aid” have also been prepared and published on the General Directorate of Taxation’s (GDT) website. Also, pop-up messages were sent to the taxpayer’s e-filing account notifying them for the activities that are closed according to the deadlines.

Clear communication strategies have been put in place, including dedicated webpages, multifaceted media communications, and/or additional measures taken to identify and reach vulnerable taxpayers. GDT is implementing a communication plan that aims to keep the public informed of any changes affecting the day-to-day operations of the tax administration with a view to securing its interest and the overall business in general.

The communication plan includes the following audience: taxpayers, individuals, key customers, correspondent banks, other important regulators, staff and third parties. Utilising both traditional and social media.

Channels for communication efforts:

  • Press releases, video conferences, daily presence in the media of the Director General supporting and informing all taxpayers of all procedures and policy reforms.
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