Agencies steer XBRL report standardisation

Pan-government effort under way to cut business compliance costs

A pan-government effort is underway to drive the adoption of a new reporting standard and cut business compliance costs.

Standard Business Reporting is an inter-agency programme of work led by the Ministry of Economic Development. Statistics NZ, IRD and ACC are also participating.

The standard will be based on a taxonomy of government reporting requirements expressed in XBRL (Extensible Business Reporting Language), which is based in turn on XML. This taxonomy will then be mapped to the information held in business accounting software, Inland Revenue says.

The main aim of the project is to reducing compliance costs to business.

“This will be achieved by allowing businesses to electronically file reports direct to multiple government agencies from their business accounts using internationally accepted standards,” says IRD.

Inland Revenue’s B2B plan – now the subject of a request for quotation that set up a contest between IBM and Oracle for the business — fits within this larger emerging project.

“Before each new government report is loaded to the taxonomy, each data element in the report is harmonised with others in the taxonomy to ensure there are no duplicate entries and that common definitions and naming conventions are used.”

The first stage of the development will be a proof of concept involving Inland Revenue’s GST return.

“The proof of concept will involve a small number of developers of financial management information systems and business accounting software,” IRD says. That stage is due for completion in June this year.

“It is envisaged that a customer using accounting software would finalise their accounts, and then instruct the accounting software to send a GST return for the desired period to Inland Revenue via a B2B system,” says the spokesperson.

Inland Revenue currently provides GST return information to Statistics NZ each month. The proof of concept will also include testing transfer of relevant GST return information in near-real-time to Statistics NZ.

Depending on the success of the proof-of-concept phase, the common reporting standard could be rolled out more widely. Inland Revenue says it is “currently reviewing with Statistics and ACC how and when other forms issued by these agencies could be addressed”.

Government Technology Services, charged with co-ordinating the operational aspects of all-of-government ICT, is not directly involved with the programme “but supports these types of initiatives that will make things easier for businesses and citizens and reduces costs,” says GTS general manager Stephen Crombie.

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