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Tax day passes with less e-stress

THE WEB portal of Slovakia’s Tax Directorate is still not fully ready to handle the late-March rush of those seeking to electronically file their income tax forms, even though taxpayers have been encouraged to use this method.

THE WEB portal of Slovakia’s Tax Directorate is still not fully ready to handle the late-March rush of those seeking to electronically file their income tax forms, even though taxpayers have been encouraged to use this method.

The Tax Directorate stated, however, that unlike previous years, this year’s three-day portal blackout from March 25-27 did not limit taxpayers’ ability to electronically file documents because its eDANE (eTaxes) application remained available to those who had installed it on their PCs. In 2010 the web portal, with its €3-million price tag, was completely unable to handle attempted uploads and forced even the most determined computer geeks to submit their returns by the traditional pen-and-paper method.

Something else also changed for Slovak taxpayers this year: for the first time they could postpone submitting their tax return by simply notifying the tax office of their intention to do so.

Previously, a district tax office had to approve each request for an extension.

Up to March 28, Slovak district tax offices had received 28,161 notifications about extensions to submit tax returns, about 3 percent of the total number of returns expected to be filed in 2011. Gabriela Dianová, spokeswoman of the Tax Directorate, told The Slovak Spectator that this was 4,300 more taxpayers than in 2010.

But the Sme daily reported that the number of late filers might be much bigger since by March 29, two days before the deadline, almost half of the expected tax returns had not yet been filed. This year the Tax Directorate expects approximately 1.128 million individual tax returns and 11,694 corporate returns, SITA reported.

In addition to their income tax document, taxpayers must also submit an annual statement to their health insurer by March 31 for calculation of future monthly payments.

Dianová said the Tax Directorate undertook several measures to maintain better accessibility
to its tax portal at www.drsr.sk, with the key step being the launch of the eDANE application.

“eDANE secured full access to the actual tax return documents and at the same time fundamentally eliminated the burden on the www.drsr.sk portal,” Dianová said. “If for any reason the tax portal was not accessible, the taxpayer could still use the eDANE application without any limitations.”

Dianová suggested that access problems to the main tax portal again this year beginning on March 25 showed that developing the eDANE application was justified. After installation of the application a taxpayer does not need to stay connected to the www.drsr.sk portal, Dianová said.

By March 29, more than 81,813 taxpayers had downloaded the eDANE application, which was developed by the DITEC company.

Last year’s collapse of the tax portal and the government’s subsequent decision that taxpayers could not use this as an acceptable reason for failure to submit tax returns by the deadline of March 31 prompted massive criticism. The Tax Directorate said last April that the financial damage from the system’s crash amounted to several thousand euros and blamed the supplier, Novitech Tax. It even went as far as suing the firm.

Novitech responded that the firm had previously warned about the “unsustainable condition of the tax administration’s portal”, as reported by Sme last spring. Sme this year wrote that the Tax Directorate’s new management had withdrawn the lawsuit.

Dianová said the current remedial measures are only short-term solutions to stabilise the electronic filing system and implementing proper solutions is limited by contracts that were signed by the previous management.

Slovakia’s Finance Ministry is pushing forward its UNITAS programme under which income taxes, customs duties and insurance contributions would be centralised in a single institution. The implementation of UNITAS between 2011 and 2013 should result in comprehensive computerisation of tax administration, with Dianová adding that it will represent a fundamental conceptual change in Slovakia.

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