Articles by John Rowe
Incompetence? Dodgy dealings? Laziness? No - it's the IRD. If someone was running around hitting people over the head with sledgehammers just for the sake of it, you'd be right to be concerned.
And concerned we are, because that's exactly what the IRD have been doing. It's alarming, and in our view, both unnecessary and counterproductive.
It appears that since the global financial crisis, the IRD have become extremely aggressive on tax collection, to the extent that they are forcing people into bankruptcy and businesses into liquidation at astonishing rates. Our concern is not that those people owed money to the tax department, but that the IRD would rather ruin their lives than get any of that money back. It's not just absurd, it's alarming, and it's having dire consequences.
The IRD's pursuit of people in arrears is relentless and highly stressful, if not downright traumatic, and they seem completely unwilling to look at any kind of constructive solution. We personally know of one person driven to suicide after being pursued by the IRD, another under mental health care, and several more facing divorce. We recently had a phone call from another accountant to say the IRD want him to convince his client to go bankrupt because they're concerned that if they do it themselves he'll commit suicide! In our view, this is totally unacceptable!
It appears to stem form an inherent unhelpfulness on the part of the IRD; that they have a mission statement to make people's lives as difficult as possible, even if the department ends up financially worse off as a result. So what's going on?
The solutions, as we see it, are very simple:
Our message to the IRD is: Come on IRD, the sledgehammer technique is vindictive bullying that doesn't serve the people or the government in the end. Stop stressing families, loosen up and be constructive! Don't set people up to fail - help them to succeed instead.
Our message to our clients is: Tell us as soon as you have a problem with the IRD - we are here to help. Put your hand up when it's still small. We don't charge for phone calls, emails and meetings, and we do a lot of this type of work on contingency - if we can't help you sort it out, then you don't have to pay us. Contact us here.
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