The IOTA Webinar on ’Delivery of E-Services to Taxpayers Affected by Covid-19’ was held on 28th October 2020, where presenters from four IOTA Members outlined how their Tax Administrations faced the challenges brought by the pandemic. Participants had the opportunity to learn about innovative responses and solutions in providing e-services throughout the pandemic in order to ensure business continuity and to provide support to the most affected taxpayers, while also discussing lessons learned which can be applied in the future.
The Covid-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented situation, where everyone needed to react rapidly without knowing the long-term consequences of the pandemic crisis. Tax Administrations faced the same challenges, as overnight they had to re-prioritise and re-design digital tax services in order to meet the needs of those who were most affected by the outbreak of the pandemic and the resulting lockdown measures.
IOTA’s Webinar on ’Delivery of E-Services to Taxpayers Affected by Covid-19’ was designed to help Member Tax Administrations discuss best practice examples of the redesign and delivery of e-services to different segments of the taxpayer community that have been affected by the pandemic. Participants received presentations from four IOTA Member presenters, namely from the United Kingdom, Spain, Denmark and Finland. During the course of the Webinar they also participated in live polls and they also had the chance to raise questions to the presenters during the Q&A session at the end of the event.
The first presenter of the event, Mr. Richard Hawthorn from the United Kingdom, shed light on how the British HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) reacted to the challenges posed by the pandemic. His presentation discussed how, at first, they made sure internally that their employees would be able to work remotely with an increased demand for digitalised work, while he also pointed out the importance of caring for employees’ mental health during these challenging times. Mr. Hawthorn also mentioned how the HMRC’s main aim was to design policies and tools to support UK citizens and businesses. . Customers also received virtual assistance to enable them to carry on transacting with HMRC.
Next, Ms. Leticia Escribano Fernández-Castaño gave a presentation on the Spanish Tax Agency’s response to Covid-19 with regards to providing the most relevant e-projects, in order to soothe the effects of the pandemic on the taxpayers. For instance, during the Resident Income Tax Campaign, they developed an extension of the Project WE CALL YOU, becoming PLUS in order to reach taxpayers who could not be attended personally in the offices. She also pointed out that “national tax administrations should work together with resilience” in order to share and achieve the best solutions possible for tax payers.
Showcasing the Danish Tax Agency’s communication strategy during the pandemic crisis, Ms. Mette Harrestrup talked about how the government’s aid packages for businesses came to the forefront. Their organisation did not only create a dedicated website for this purpose, but also used social media channels and paid online advertising channels to reach their targeted group. Their strategy resulted in an impressive 25% click-through-rate, which, as she said, happened thanks to both their innovative strategy as well as due to the crisis situation.
The fourth presenter of the Webinar, Ms. Sanna Kuuri from Finland, spoke about their relatively lucky situation, since the Finnish Tax Administration’s staff had mostly worked from home already before the pandemic, precisely 73% of them. During the crisis, this ratio has increased to 89%.The Finnish Tax Administration implemented one new functionality to e-Services due to Covid-19 crisis: payment arrangements with eased terms. With COTS (Commercial off the shelf) they are able to respond faster and with lower costs to these specific business needs.
The full Webinar is available for IOTA Members via the event page.