IRD ramps up online projects

The Inland Revenue Department is tossing up between J2EE and Microsoft's .Net for a five-year plan to extend online tax payment to all taxpayers.

The Inland Revenue Department is tossing up between J2EE and Microsoft’s .Net for a five-year plan to extend online tax payment to all taxpayers.

The plan, entailing 52 “e-enablement” initiatives, will convert the department’s IT architecture from mainframe-centric to web-based.

The IRD’s general manager of business development and systems, Colin MacDonald (pictured), says the department has tended to use J2EE for online projects to date, but a platform decision for the plan outlined last week hasn’t been finalised.

The plan is the product of an IT strategy review begun at the end of last year that is almost complete.

MacDonald says the priority will be extending the ability to file and pay taxes online to all taxpayers. A GST-return pilot, which began in June with 250 taxpayers, will be extended to the general public by January 2003. The department will then focus on electronic filing of income tax and fringe benefit returns.

The IRD is also working with the banks. ANZ has just joined WestpacTrust in allowing customers to pay taxes online and Kiwi Bank is working on the same capability.

Another project, which should be operational within six months, will be to allow online credit card payment of tax. This would be especially useful for repayment of student loans or child support by people living overseas, says MacDonald.

IRD currently spends about $25 million a year on information technology.

MacDonald says each project will stand on its own and will have a full cost analysis before proceeding, but it is expected they will all go ahead.

“If we find we can’t pay for them from the normal spending we will make a case to the government for extra funding.”

He says ramping up the implementation of services will mean some use of external resources but how that manifests itself remains to be seen.

“We don’t know yet if we will go to tender for partners.”

To support the initiatives, meanwhile, those of the IRD’s 100 internal development staff with traditional skills such as Cobol will start training on web-based tools.

MacDonald says there has been a positive response from staff to a call for expressions of interest in training.

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