“Happy Tax Refund Project” integrates a range of IT initiatives that help facilitate tax refund process, improve online services and support Revenue Department (RD) officials’ functions. The aim is to fasten the refund process as well as minimize inconvenience and costs borne by both taxpayers and RD resulting in better and more efficient services.
The project is part of e-Filing Project (launched in 2002). And it is designed to overcome taxpayers’ difficulties in dealing with tax refund procedures and RD administrative problems. These could be caused by ‘e-Filing Campaign’ to have faster tax refund for online filing. In Thailand, we use self-assessment system and since there are several tax privileges, a large number of taxpayers requested for tax refund. The campaign is an incentive for taxpayers to use online services especially when they claim for tax refund, leading to a massive tax refund requests during the 3-month period of filing. In addition, there is evidence showing that there are fault tax refund claims. Thus RD officials have to request for additional information to prove whether taxpayers are entitle to tax refund.
Before the initiative, a taxpayer could submit the requested information by post, or fax, or self-submission at corresponding area revenue office, and check tax refund status by making phone calls to the corresponding area revenue office or to RD Call Center. However if the calls did not get through, then taxpayer would resend the information.
Moreover the received information was not transformed into electronic form. Therefore it would take a lot of time for officials to search for taxpayer information, also it might be the case that the same information might be requested again in the following years which slowed down the tax refund process. This led to unsatisfaction toward RD service. Also there must be officials appointed to record the information, identify official in charge, and send information to the corresponding official to analyse the case. The process of receiving information alone involves lots of stages and a large number of officials, and sometimes documents might be lost or misplaced during the process. Nonetheless, if documents received were unclear or incomplete, RD official would have to contact taxpayer and request for the same information which would even make the process slower.
Each year, there are more than 6,000,000 taxpayers filed tax returns online and out of this number about 1,500,000 taxpayers requested for tax refund, compared with 600,000 tax refund requests filed at the area revenue branch offices. The evidence clearly shows that the online filing is much more popular than the paper filing. Thus a significant number of our clients got affected from the tax refund process. It also affected RD image under the brand “e-Revenue” to provide efficient IT service and promote “Go Green Campaign”.
Since the initiative was introduced, starting from 2007, we have seen changes how the taxpayers deal with tax refund requests. And, in 2011, the number of calls decreases gradually to about 60% of the total number before the initiative.