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Jakarta Post

Tax authority goes above, beyond to reach out to taxpayers

  • Marchio Irfan Gorbiano

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Tue, March 19, 2019   /   07:43 am
Tax authority goes above, beyond to reach out to taxpayers Tax officials collect annual tax returns (SPT) from taxpayers at a tax office in Tulungagung, East Java. (ANTARA FOTO/Destyan Sujarwoko)

The tax authority has been lauded for sending out emails, reminding millions of taxpayers to submit their annual tax returns (SPTs) before the designated deadline.

For people who were preoccupied with work and, therefore, needed someone to remind them about their tax obligation, the email was very helpful, said Jakarta resident Amalia Rochimah Putri.

“For workers, who actively check their inbox, the email [from the tax authority] was very useful. We were personally reminded [to submit our SPTs],” the 25-year-old added.

The auto-generated email signed off by the Finance Ministry’s director general of taxation, Robert Pakpahan, was sent between March 1 and 5.

Amalia said she had yet to submit her SPT because she had not received an income tax slip from her employer. She, however, added that she was not worried about the possibility of submitting it in time because the e-filing online system was user-friendly.

She has been using it since 2016.

The same sentiment was echoed by Edlyn Janri, 30, who said the email sent by the tax authority was helpful in reminding him to submit his SPT.

Edlyn, however, was concerned about submitting his SPT in time because he had yet to receive his income tax slip from his employer.

Individual taxpayers are required to submit their SPTs to the tax authority no later than March 31, while the deadline for institutional taxpayers is set at April 30.

Commenting on Amalia’s case, the tax authority called on companies to immediately hand over income tax slips to their employees, which should be issued every January, so that they have enough time to submit their SPTs, said tax office spokesman Hestu Yoga Saksama.

“The income tax slip is the right of the employees whose taxes are collected and deposited by their firms,” said Hestu. “It would be a pity if [the employees] had to submit their SPTs at the end of March.”

Aside from the emails, the tax office was also going above and beyond to reach out to taxpayers.

In order to ensure that they submitted their SPTs without incident, the tax office had established a special task force to assist them, said Hestu. In addition, the tax authority has also set up “SPT collection outlets” at selected locations such as shopping malls and office complexes.

Hestu added that one of the main priorities of the tax authority was to ensure that the e-filing system ran smoothly.

SPT submissions are one of the ways the tax authority gauges taxpayer compliance.

Indonesia follows a self-assessment regime in its taxation system, which means that taxpayers should calculate, report and pay their taxes to the tax authority. However, the tax office has the right to check the taxpayers’ tax returns to assess their compliance.

Taxpayers, particularly those who have an annual income above Rp 54 million -- the bottom line of taxable income -- were required to submit their SPTs to the tax office, while taxpayers with an income of less than Rp 54 million were not required to submit theirs, according to Finance Ministerial Regulation No. 243/2014.

Hestu said 18.3 million registered taxpayers were expected to submit their SPTs, according to the latest data. The tax office has set an ambitious compliance rate of 85 percent this year, or equal to welcoming SPTs from 15.5 million taxpayers whose incomes are above the non-taxable income limit.

As of March 14, around 6 million taxpayers had submitted their SPTs to the tax office, said Hestu.

The 2019 target was above the 71 percent compliance rate that was recorded last year as only 12.55 million out of 17.6 million taxpayers submitted their SPTs.

Despite the efforts that the tax authorities have made to ease the taxation procedures for taxpayers -- including the e-filing system -- further steps needed to be taken to lower taxpayers’ cost of compliance, said Gunadi, a taxation professor from the University of Indonesia.

“The procedures need to be made as easy as possible [to increase compliance],” added Gunadi who is also the chairman of the Taxation Supervisory Committee, which is an independent committee within the Finance Ministry that reports directly to the finance minister.

He emphasized that the importance for Indonesia to adopt a policy of single identity numbers for its citizens, which would help to further simplify various administrative procedures for both taxpayers and the tax authority.