Tax Guidance from a Freight Truck
Tiina Karbin & Harriet Mallenius, Communication Specialists,The Finnish Tax Administration.
In spring 2015 the Finnish Tax Administration carried out a new concept for tax guidance and education. The goal was to improve compliance and help taxpayers to file their tax return online. The results showed that easily accessible one-on-one service had a direct impact on the amount of e-filed tax returns and also on taxpayers’ the attitudes towards taxes and the Tax Administration.
In April 2015 the Finnish Tax Administration loaded a truck full of computers and motivated staff members. The Tax Truck visited 18 cities. The opening hours were extended to outside office hours and the stops were chosen from central locations so that customers had easy access to the service.
On a one day stop the visitors were given hands-on guidance on how to e-file. The goal was to increase e-filing by proactive guidance and raise the awareness of e-services. And on the other hand to decrease phone service and one-on-one contacts in the tax offices.
In the capital Helsinki a Pop up Tax Office was built with the same service concept. Tax guidance was offered for three days in the Central Railway Station where 200 000 people pass every day.
Let the results speak for themselves
The results from the concept were good. Tax Truck was very much liked – in an exit poll that was carried out in each city, 98 percent of the responses were encouraging. The customers were content that they were provided help with their tax matters in such a way. Especially in cities where there are no tax offices the help was very much appreciated.
Media noticed the truck as well. Tax returns and e-filing got media coverage in tv, radio and all mainstream and local newspapers. In the social media the topic was discussed in Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. The Tax Administration was said to be a role model in the public sector providing such an innovative service. Many public bodies visited the Pop up office and are now planning to do the same.
All together 5 000 taxpayers visited the truck or the pop up office. The amount of e-filed tax returns increased in every city compared to the average level of e-filed tax returns in Finland. In addition to the numerical results the feedback from the customers, staff and media proved that the concept was a success. Easily accessible one-on-one service definitely improved the attitudes toward the Tax Administration and taxes, so a tour for next year is already booked.
Tiina Karbin & Harriet Mallenius
The Finnish Tax Administration