#CloseUp interview about VMI EDS Vedlys
Submission of tax return and declaration of income processes can be a tricky and head-aching task to do. Filling our many forms, gathering various documents, submitting them seem like a lot of work for most of the citizens. However, these processes do not have to be so complex – a new VMI EDS Vedlys (Guide for Electronic Declaration System of the State Tax Inspectorate) solution is a great proof of that.
We talked with the team from NRD Systems – they were one of the creators of the new, easy to use VMI EDS Vedlys system. NRD Systems performed the EDS and software development part together with NFQ Technologies, which implemented the User Experience (UX) and design works.
What is special about the new VMI EDS Vedlys solution that is meant to facilitate the submission of tax return and declaration of income?
The new solution has approached the submission of tax returns and declaration of income with a new mindset. Usually, in Lithuanian state institutions, most of the web-based public services (e-services) are document-based. They mirror the physical process, where if a person wants to submit information or request something from the government, that person must write a formal letter, attach required information by filling out a prescribed paper form. Public e-services have only digitized the physical process with little regard to optimizing it or making the information exchange between the person and the government a bit easier or less cumbersome.
The new VMI EDS guiding solution has eliminated the need to fill out any paper-like forms on the web. The new form of step by step questions is simple and easy to answer. It asks for bits of information that a person can provide to satisfy the information requirements of a specific process (tax return submission, income declaration).
Not only this simplifies the process itself, but the system is guiding the person going through this process. They are being asked specific and simple questions in a language that is easy to understand for a person that is not a tax accountant or a lawyer.
Why is the new VMI EDS Vedlys system important to the community, how it will help people?
The old system had a very steep learning curve. The person had to spend quite a bit of time understanding the legal language of the forms and instructions. The forms themselves were more than five pages and accompanying instructions were several tens of pages long. Tax laws sometimes do change, so taxpayers sometimes have a problem with understanding what had changed since the previous time. Most of the time, filling the forms out was extremely time-consuming even if there were no changes in legislation. The forms and procedures were extremely complicated. Besides, people would only do this once a year and would not remember the details next year.
All these issues meant that the old way for providing tax returns and income declaration was extremely time-consuming and unsatisfying to an average taxpayer. They would be forced to lean on telephone assistance from the State Tax Inspectorate (STI) itself, friends, or relatives, or even contract services of lawyers or accountants just to comply with the law.
The new guiding system does not require any instructions, but video guides are provided. The system can also accommodate persons with visual impairment. Questions and responses required are easily understandable, straightforward, and no external assistance is required (online assistance is built-in, just in case).
The new system requires significantly less time to complete answers compared to the old system. It is also less error-prone, feedback is immediate and unpaid taxes can be settled immediately.
How this solution could facilitate the work of the public sector?
Serve as a model of how public service provision should be done,
This solution could serve as a model for the public sector on how the public services should be rendered and information from citizens or businesses to be acquired. The public sector should move away from specific forms for information submission. IT solutions can transform the information into any shape or form, requiring data elements, not forms. The government holds vast amounts of data that should be reused across all government agencies. This approach would enable better data sharing and less interaction with the “customer”. Ease of access to public services and “customer” centricity should be the goal. This would increase compliance and use of public services thus making government functions more efficient and less costly (holistically speaking).
Do you have any tips for other creators who want to work with the public sector?
Be creative, listen to the customer’s opinion, and everything is possible. Most importantly, have a motivated team that cooperates with customers. Be patient, be disciplined, come with a mindset and determination to become a trusted consultant. That is the only way to success.