- On Thursday 9 April 2020, Inland Revenue will start a week-long shutdown of all its core systems and services
- CA ANZ asked for a deferral while the country was in COVID-19 lockdown
- Inland Revenue says a delay increases the risk of not being able to meet customers’ needs at this difficult time
On Thursday 9 April 2020, Inland Revenue is starting a week-long shutdown of all its core systems and services, as well as a number of external B2B interfaces and data shares, to allow enhancements to its online services.
IR will be officially closed to customers from 3pm on 9 April. All draft messages or draft returns need to be finalised in myIR by that time. The shutdown period includes the Easter long weekend.
Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ) asked Inland Revenue to consider deferring implementation of this fourth transformation release (BT4) while the country is under COVID-19 lockdown.
CA ANZ argued for the importance of keeping the tax system operating, and warned of the potential risks associated with an IT release at a time of disruption and uncertainty.
"Tax agents in particular will be impacted where they have returns or secure emails in the system which are not able to be finalised before the shutdown," said John Cuthbertson FCA, New Zealand Tax Leader for CA ANZ.
"We need to strike the right balance."
"Any issues around implementation which cannot be resolved quickly will result in more stress for taxpayers and tax agents, particularly small and medium-sized practices."
Inland Revenue says it gave a lot of consideration to its decision in light of the challenging environment, but remained committed to implementing the latest round of changes. "Release 4 will enable us to further simplify requirements, reduce effort, improve services and allow customers to do more for themselves. Any delay increases the risk that we won't be able to meet customers' needs at this difficult time."
Inland Revenue acknowledged that going ahead during the COVID-19 pandemic "increases the risk of things not going smoothly and the risk of us not being able to meet demand for our services in the following weeks."
"However, the risks involved in any future date are unknown, as we don't know what will be happening in the economy then. Not making these changes now would mean delaying the benefits to New Zealand, without necessarily reducing the risk."
Also, in preparation for the shutdown Inland Revenue ran a number of dress rehearsals. It says "We are confident that we're in a good place heading into this".
During the week-long shutdown there will be no access to myIR nor ability to make contact through Inland Revenue's contact centres. Inland Revenue will continue to support Ministry of Social Development with wage subsidy applications, and will continue to make all expected payments.