Tax Proposal Service of th Finnish Tax Authority

Tax Proposal Service of th Finnish Tax Authority

R. Suomi (Turku School of Economics and Business Administration, Finland)
Copyright: © 2007 |Pages: 6
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-789-8.ch230
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Abstract

Taxation is one of the key functions of any state. Without a working tax collection system, any state would have big difficulties in fulfilling its responsibilities. Even though taxation is a service with negative demand (Kotler, 1997) at an individual level, most taxpayers admit that taxation needs to be done. As an unpleasant issue, it should be taken care of as efficiently and with as little effort as possible needed from the taxpayer’s side. Our article, as well as the tax proposal system to be introduced, focuses solely on the personal income tax. The idea of the tax proposal system is to take away the hard work from the taxpayer: He or she does not have to work out anything for the taxation purposes in the normal case. The taxpayer’s role is rather to accept the taxation information and decision that is given to him or her, or to demand changes to the taxation. In that case, he or she has to deliver the evidence. In the long run, the Web-based interfaces are too on the Finnish tax-authority’s (shortly referred to as taxman in the rest of this article) development list. Taxation is a very information intensive activity. It needs the support of huge information and other systems. Introducing changes to this environment, which is also heavily regulated, is a demanding task. Yet the efficiency and effectiveness of the taxation system is a key success factor for any state, and innovations are needed in a constantly changing environment. As many countries try to create Web-based tax return arrangements (Vassilagis, Laskaridis, Lepouras, Rouvas, & Georgiadis, 2003), Finland has chosen another strategy to streamline the taxation process. In Finland, the interface to the final taxpayer, to the individual, remains so far paper-based, but massive system integration between the systems of the tax authority and the various payers of salaries and other income to the final taxpayer has been established. In this article, we tell how the Finnish tax proposal system works, how tax authorities have been able to develop and introduce the tax proposal system, and what kind of benefits it has brought to the taxman and to the taxpayers. We represent that the tight information system integration in one governmental agency does not give competitive advantage. The integration has to go much deeper and wider into intergovernmental networks (G2G) and government to business networks (G2B) (Scholl, 2004). Our main conclusions are: • Citizen-oriented process design and system development can give efficiency and effectiveness benefits for administration too. The Finnish approach of first streamlining the taxation processes and regulation and then later giving electronic access to the taxpayer to the taxation data is sensible. • To get the systems automated and processed streamlined, has meant that the very structure, process and basis of taxation has been changed in some details. A Finnish success factor has been that political decision makers have let this happen. • The Finnish approach has been possible because of a wide nationwide consensus and co-operation. The selected approach has benefited from the trust the taxman and other authorities enjoys in the society. The new system further strengthens the goodwill of the taxman among taxpayers. There is a positive interaction going on. • Adam Smith’s over 200 years old principles of good taxation are easily implemented with computerized taxation methods. • The massive system integration effort on the background has cost a lot, not just to the taxman but to the employers and many other parties too. However, all parties have seen the increased efficiency of taxation worth the investments. • Information systems with clear strategic advantage take years if not decades to mature. This has too been the case with the Finnish taxation system.

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