@skattefar – a conversational partner in a digitized tax system

Lene Krogh Jeppesen er en af personerne bag @skattefar

I den kommende tid vil en række af speakerne på “Sharing is Caring 2012 – Let’s Get Real” blogge om deres arbejde med deling og åbenhed her på formidlingsnettet, som opvarmning til seminaret 12. december.

Dette blogindlæg er skrevet af Lene Krogh Jeppesen, en af vores ignite speakers. Hun arbejder med videndeling i Skatteministeriet og er et af de levende billeder bag Twitter-profilen @skattefar

In 2010 The Ministry of Taxation decided to use Twitter to partake in conversations with citizens. The followers of the profile @skattefar is now counted in thousands. They converse with the Ministry – and each other – on tax related topics. Anything from citizens’ suggestions for improvements of The Ministry’s digital solutions, to questions on where to find specific information, to questions on deadlines for filing tax data to friendly remarks and jokes about taxes. By being present in the twitter-verse, The Ministry of Taxation becomes available as a conversational partner for citizens.

@skattefar teaches the Ministry how to be a modern governing authority
The Ministry has a long history of innovating solutions from the inside out. Of drawing upon internal experts to innovate the administration of taxes; to make tax administration more efficient handled with fewer resources. For the past couple of years the Ministry has become more adept at systematically drawing upon outside input from citizens to innovate the tax administration. With this comes a new understanding of being a government authority. The Ministry still has the responsibility of creating laws and regulation governing taxes and for administering these laws correctly. But at the same time The Ministry needs to learn from its surroundings – to involve the surroundings in creating the best solutions for registering tax data and collecting taxes. Being on Twitter is one of several ways the Ministry learns from its surroundings. @skattefar asks the tweeps what their preferences and thoughts are on specific solutions that The Ministry is currently contemplating. @skattefar listens to frustrations regarding the digital solutions and learns from these frustrations. @skattefar recruits users for usability tests and co-creation workshops. Aside from the specific input in these situations this also garners internal discussions on the role of a modern governing authority. Having the courage to enter into the twitter-verse thus fuels an organizational development and a readiness to become a governing authority at eye level with the citizens.

Background: an efficient automated tax system creates alienation

In Denmark taxes are highly digitized. Drowning in receipts, fighting with a calculator and a pen to make a last minute deadline to file your annual tax return is a phenomenon of the past. Thus a majority of Danish citizens have very little hassle with administration of their taxes. This digital era also entails alienation. Hence, citizens’ grasp of the basics of the tax system is also a phenomenon of the past. Small and medium sized enterprises still have to file data with the Danish Ministry of Taxation at regular intervals – this is also done digitally. However, the rules and regulations concerning VAT and taxes can seem complex and complicated for many SMEs. Compliance with the rules and regulations may seem difficult given the current digital solutions and information from the Ministry of Taxation and other bodies governing the SMEs. The Danish Ministry of Taxation seems like a big insurmountable black box of red tape and making sense of your taxes seems impossible. How could citizens have a conversation with the tax system to try to become de-alienated and reconnect with the tax system? How could SMEs help create sensible digital tax solutions? How could SMEs feel they got the relevant service and assistance to help them be in compliance with their taxes?

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