The Tax Office (Hacienda) has changed the system so you can only declare your IVA online through their webpage. No more filling in of forms and posting them off…
Well, the theory is good, but the implementation has been chaotic, with users not understand the system, the system not being up to the job (complicated, slow and keeps crashing) and the only helpline a premium line 901 with not enough operators and queue times of up to one hour.
What’s worse, the “information” telephone line is only available weekday mornings, meaning that if you have trouble filling in the forms, they don’t pick up after midday.
Consumer experts say that Hacienda has made no effort to simplify the tax form online, meaning many people simply don’t understand how to fill in the form. It’s a bizarre online form which attempts to replicate the full paper form, with lots of scrolling up and down, manually calculating boxes and trying to remember what was on the previous page.
Just registering for the system is bad enough. First of all, you had to be on the IVA system, and then Hacienda sends you a postal letter with a special code.
You go online with that code and enter it online. Hacienda issues you with a PIN code valid for 24 hours. The PIN code can only be sent to a mobile phone, and that only after you again verify your identity by remembering, for example, your previous address and bank details.
Not the full bank details: Hacienda gives you part of your old bank account number, and you have to work out which digits come after the ones on the screen.
You then have to choose between two computer programmes to download, which are PC and Mac based. Choosing which one to download is mainly guesswork, or reading through a load of bumpf.
The computer programme basically gives you the old paper form, online, in the same format, completely unsuitable for a digital format. You fill it all in and a secure PDF is then generated. You save the pdf to your computer and then have to connect to the Hacienda website to send it off. If it hasn’t crashed, which it does, a lot.
You still haven’t finished!
You get another PIN code which you have to send to a special number from the mobile phone which received the original PIN. And it didn’t help matters when the Hacienda SMS gateway went down for a week, and automatically replied with an error message, despite having received the pin correctly.
And if you have to pay, the money is taken out straight away, so make damned sure you have the cash in the account at the time you send off the forms, otherwise it will bounce and you won’t have presented the tax form.
Cock this up, and if you don’t get the tax form in by the 30th, you get an automatic fine of €1,500.
Hacienda says it’s saving a bundle by not having to employ people to manually check the tax forms, and also gets the cash sooner.
Consumer groups say the system is rushed, badly thought out, unsuitable for the digital age, and basically, a trap to issue as many fines as Hacienda can.