Read booklet first, says busy Taxes Office
ISLANDERS are being urged to read guidance provided online and in booklets to help fill in their tax returns before contacting the Cyril Le Marquand helpdesk for assistance.
Richard Summersgill, Jersey’s Comptroller of Taxes, also said that taxpayers with queries should contact the office by telephone rather than visiting the helpdesk if they want their queries to be dealt with more quickly.
His comments come after Deputy Jackie Hilton raised concerns in the States earlier this month that Islanders, in some cases, were waiting for more than an hour to be served by the tax helpdesk. The Taxes Office has published statistics revealing that the average waiting time this year for the helpdesk has been nearly 15 minutes, while for a phone call it has been just over a minute.
‘Our statistics show that callers wait, on average, just 67 seconds for their call to be answered, and calls last an average of six minutes,’ said Mr Summersgill.
‘However, people who come to the office in person often wait a lot longer, and some are asking for help we cannot give. Our top helpdesk query is “Please can you check/help me fill in my tax return”. But it is for taxpayers to fill in their own tax forms. Our officers want to help, but it is not possible to provide what is effectively a free tax-agent service at public cost, especially when that work increases queuing times for other people.’
The Taxes Office is also urging Islanders with ‘more complicated tax affairs’ to seek professional advice from tax experts. Mr Summersgill said, however, that ‘vulnerable’ Islanders who could not afford professional help could arrange appointments with his officers during ‘quiet periods’.
Guidance can be found online at gov.je and in booklets from the Taxes Office.
Islanders who need extra help, either due to disability or language difficulties, can seek support from Citizens Advice.