Taxing issues

The Dutch tax office is a high spender on advertising – bizarre when you consider everyone knows they have to fill in the form contained in the dull blue envelope that drops through every letterbox.

But someone within the department thinks the tax office needs to spend money on improving its public image. The adverts centre on how easy it is to fill in your tax return and all the great things the tax office is doing to help, using the slogan ‘we can’t make it nicer, but we can make it easier’.
Alas. Perhaps all that PR money could have been better spent making sure the computer system worked in the first place. The tax office has been hit by countless problems with its software and computers.
Small-firm payrolling, the payment of rent and health insurance subsidies, the recognition of electronic signatures and now 2007 tax returns have all run into serious trouble.
MPs are now jumping up and down and shouting and the junior finance minister has said he is stepping in and taking charge.
But it would be interesting to know just how much the tax office has paid for all these failing computer systems and which companies were involved in supplying them – presuming they were put out to public tender, of course. But then, that would not be a particularly good advert for anybody.

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