| 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
Elements of the ATS Action plan
1)Amendment to legislations
a.For the Automation process to start, the relevant legislations, namely Income Tax Act and the VAT Act needed to be amended to include the following:
i.A consolidated threshold for deductions
ii.The introduction of Tax Deduction at Source for rental income, royalties, payment to professionals, etc
iii.Introduction of a Cumulative PAYE System
iv.Obligation for employers to submit the Return of Employees
v.Extension of due date for filing of income tax return for e-filers
a.Shift from utilization of Government’s electronic platform (Government Online Centre) to a platform managed by the MRA (from www.gov.mu to www.mra.mu)
b.Introduction of an Integrated Tax Administration Solution (ITAS) adapted to the needs of the country
i.It covers registration, return processing, payment, assessment, objection and appeal to debt collection and enforcement
ii.It allows a single overview of all the filing obligations of a taxpayer
c.Adoption of a Record Management System
Scanning, registration and filing of documents in an electronic document management system
d.E-Selection of Tax audit cases
An electronic system automatically selects and allocates cases for audit using specified parameters
a.After the development of the system and the User Assisted Training (UAT), all the users of the ITAS were formally trained.
b.The training sessions were conducted internally by the staff of the Information Systems Department of the MRA
c.The majority of the staff of the MRA being computer literate, the training was done in a quick interval
4)Communication to Taxpayers / Stakeholders
a.The Taxpayer Services Department was changed to Taxpayer Education and Communication Department and staff with specific skills were recruited.
b.A long-term Communication Strategy was designed and implemented to ensure acceptance by the public and understanding of the objectives.
c.The majority of the communication materials were developed in-house
5)Deployment of the automated System (Chronological list)
The deployment of the system was effected gradually as follows:
a.In 2006, the changes in legislations were brought, namely: obligation to file ROE, TDS, consolidated deductions, Cumulative PAYE and abolition of tax incentives,
b.In 2007, the following actions were implemented:
i.Automated Registration of taxpayers in business through online access to the Central Business Registration Database (CBRD)
ii.Introduction of a PDF-based electronic return for salaried taxpayers
c.In 2008, the PDF-based electronic return was extended to self-employed individual taxpayers
d.In 2009, the Record Management System was introduced as well as the online application for Tax Account Number (TAN)
e.In 2010, the following actions were taken:
i.The MRA shifted from the Government’s Platform to a self-managed systems
ii.The ITAS was introduced thereby doing away with three systems (Income Tax, VAT, Large Taxpayers) which were operating remotely
iii.The PDF-based form was enhanced and further simplified to one r/v page
f.In 2011, the MRA implemented the second phase of the ATS by stop sending manual forms to taxpayers and introducing new modes of payment, namely Direct Debit
g.In 2012, the following actions were taken:
i.The electronic PDF-based form was again enhanced
ii.Introduction of a registration service for the e-services
iii.Introduction of pre-filled individual income tax returns
iv.New electronic modes of payments were introduced
h.In 2013, the following actions were taken to implement the last phase of the ATS:
i.Introduction of a unique web-based wizard driven Income Tax Form for salaried and self-employed taxpayers
ii.Introduction of payment by mobile phone text messages (SMS)
i.In 2014, payment by Credit card was introduced.
| 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
The following stakeholders were involved in the design and implementation of the ATS:
1)The Director General of the Mauritius Revenue Authority, Mr. Sudhamo Lal
2)Employees of the former revenue departments, namely: Mr. Mahmad Oozeer, Mr. Ootam Hurnam, Miss Fahmida Khodabux, Mr. Soopayah Narrainen
3)Mr. Paul Matthews, Consultant from Price Waterhouse Coopers
4)The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development (Public institution)
5)The Board of Investment (Public institution)
6)The Mauritius Institute of Professional Accountants (Private Sector)
7)The Mauritius Taxpayers Association (NGO)
8)The Mauritius Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Private Sector)
9)The Mauritius Employers Federation (Private Sector)
10) The Mauritius Export Authority (Export community-private sector)
11)The Registrar of Businesses (Public institution)
12)The Registrar General (Public institution)
13)The National Transport Authority(Public institution)
14)The Passport and Immigration Office(Public institution)
15)The Gambling Regulatory Authority(Public institution)
| 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
The electronic system that has been introduced in the context of the automation of the taxation process as well as the cost financial and technical costs involved can be divided in the following categories:
1)Providing electronic services to taxpayers through MRA’s website
a.The electronic facilities were developed by the MRA with the existing resources.
b.The new modes of payment did not require additional investment by the MRA
c.The MRA’s IS Department started developing Applications (Aps) for smartphones and tablets as from 2014 to further facilitate the taxpayers
2)Integrated Tax Administration Solution (TAS)
a.The Cost for the purchase of the ITAS was born by the Government
b.The ITAS was then customise to adapt to the needs of the MRA
c.The staff from the Information System Department (ISD) conducted the training of the MRA Staff on the use of ITAS
3)Record Management System
a.The Record Management System (KOFAX Solution) was purchased by the Government outside the budget allocated to the MRA
The number of additional staff that was required to operate the ATS was around ……
In terms of training of the staff to manage the Automated Tax Services, it is to be noted that the training has been carried out by the Internal Staff of the MRA. The training has been scheduled based on the different phases of the implementation of the initiative. The
The cost of communicating the whole project and ensure the adoption by the public of the ATS on a voluntary basis was around Rs 10 million (350 000 USD)
| 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
1)Reduction in processing time for the returns
2)Synchronisation of all tax systems through sharing of data
3)E-selection of cases for audit
4)Change in Tax Culture
a.The MRA has observed a change in mindset for preparing a tax return manually -taking leaves/ permissions from work to submit a return at the MRA Head Office and / or join a long queue to effect payment.
5)Fast-track refunds through matching of electronic return data & third party information (banks, employers, etc). Refunds may now be credited directly in the bank account of a taxpayer.
6)Reduction in the cost for printing income tax returns ( around 200 000 returns) and post same to taxpayers. In 2006, the cost was estimated at Rs 1,717,500 (Approx. USD 57 250). This cost did not include the additional resources needed and the amount paid in terms of overtime to the staff for processing the manual returns.
7)Redeployment of staff previously employed to capture data from returns to key areas for fast-track service to taxpayers.
8)Minimization of errors (inputting / calculation/ interpretation)
9)Increase in the percentage of electronic payment received from 42% in 2007 to 68.2% in 2013.
| 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
1)Tracking of Returns / payments/ refunds
a.The MRA has put in place an on-line tracking system which enables the authority on a daily basis to track the number of e-filers, the number of payments made electronically
2)Monitoring of ATS
a.Use of a constant monitoring mechanism for electronic returns during the filing season, leading to judicious strategic decisions being taken in case of lower compliance rate
b.Monitoring of claims for refund
3)Impact assessment / Evaluation
a.Continuous assessment of operations with available reports on different activities
b.Taxpayer Satisfaction survey
The MRA commissioned a Taxpayer Satisfaction Survey to assess the impact of the changes introduced since its setting up.
c.Employee Satisfaction Survey
The MRA organized a survey to receive appropriate feedback / suggestion / comments from members of its staff about the administration of the authority.
d.Feedback from stakeholders
The MRA receives regular feedback from the Taxpayer association as well as NGOs and opinion leaders about the way it is operating.
| 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
1)Acceptance of new Technology and Culture
Problem: The initiative brought about a change in tax culture as well as a use of new technology. The first obstacle was to ensure that the taxpayers adopt the technology change and the second one was to start to tread on the long road towards the establishment of a new tax culture in Mauritius.
When the ATS was launched, the public was rather reluctant to use the new tools that were at their disposal.
Solution: To encounter this attitude and ensure that there is a shift in the way people interact with the tax authority, the MRA made use of a well defined communication mix comprising of the television, the radio, the written press, the online community on social media and the MRA Mailing service. To further motivate the taxpayers, the MRA introduced for example an E-Filing lottery wit 20 prizes worth a total of 7000 dollars. The result was gradual change in attitude and behaviour amounting to the full adoption of the automation strategy proposed.
2)Resistance to change by staff
Problem: As the technology and the approach was new, the MRA Staff, who have been been working with tax for 25 years were at first reluctant to change. For example when E-filing of individual income tax returns was introduced the taxpayers still had the option for 3 years to submit their income tax returns manually. The staff of the MRA themselves continued to send their income tax forms manually and did not encourage the taxpayers dynamically to adopt the new system.
Solution: The MRA embarked on an internal sensitisation campaign aiming at a change in attitude and behaviour from the staff. Each and every staff of the MRA participated in this initiative as part of their work mandate