The IRD gets political

Inland Revenue has admitted it was wrong to ask for New Zealanders’ political persuasions in a survey they are carrying out for the Government on the eve of the release of a crucial tax reform report.

The taxman is researching the public’s views on globalisation and fairness in the tax system. Questions had included where respondents sit on the political spectrum, prompting questions of whether taxpayers are funding sensitive political polling.

After days of defending the research, Inland Revenue conceded on Saturday night that it was wrong to ask the political question.  “We should not have included the question about political spectrum,” group head of communications and marketing Andrew Stott said, adding that the department would not include the question in its research.

Inland Revenue initially refused to release the polling questions. Group head of communications and marketing Andrew Stott denied the poll included political leaning questions. “I’d be incredibly amazed if there was,” Stott said.He later admitted he had not checked the poll.

end quote.

I’m incredibly amazed that as Group Head of Communications and Marketing, a) he didn’t know what was in the poll when it was released to the public, and b) he doubled down and defended the survey without even knowing what was in it.

It?s right there in his job title, in that big word ‘communications’.  It is gross incompetence that the IRD got this so wrong, and as Head of Communications, he should be held accountable. quote.

National’s finance spokeswoman Amy Adams planned to complain to the State Services Commission.

“It is deeply concerning that IRD is doing overtly political polling on the eve of the release of the Tax Working Group’s final report,” Adams said.

Adams said the survey needed to be examined independently.

“Given the implications of politicisation this raises, it is something the State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes should investigate and confirm that the IRD are not carrying out political services for the Government.” Adams said government departments could survey customers, but it was “entirely inappropriate to survey their political leanings, and views on globalisation, or the adequacy of welfare”.

stuff.end quote.

The IRD should concentrate on collecting taxes, as required by law. Any surveys should concentrate on their services. Stay out of politics.