What happens if the IRD come knocking on your door?

It came to our attention recently that teams of IRD staff have arrived unannounced at the business premises of some mechanics and motor repairers in the Porirua/ Plimmerton region.

These teams are made up of members of the investigation team (who’s role includes identifying gaps in cash collection and reporting), and the community compliance team (who’s focus is more on assisting businesses with understanding their obligations).

This raises a couple of issues:

  1. Is this legitimate – are they allowed to do this?
  2. What are your rights, what can you do about it?
  3. What are their powers?

Yes, they can do this. They do have to carry ID and warrants. But if they arrive on your doorstep, other than ensuring they are wearing the appropriate ID, all you can do is co-operate, and call your accountant to ensure you understand what they are trying to achieve.

Having robust, transparent systems and good records will ensure they leave quickly.

The IRD have stated that they want to visit small businesses more.  These teams will continue to “target” specific industries and identify areas that they think need addressing. They will collate their findings and issue a report. We will pass on any useful information we get from it.

Could your business survive a month without you?

Could you take a month off from your business, as I did recently, and expect everything to be up to date when you get back? So many business owners tell me that they can’t take time off from the business without it, in the worst case, falling apart, and in the best case them coming back to a massive pile of things to catch up on.

How healthy is that, for the owner or the business?

There’s also the business risk. What happens if you get hit by the proverbial bus? How many peoples’ livelihoods are in jeopardy because the business couldn’t carry on without you?

Nobody in a business should be able to hold the whole place to ransom like this.

Some of the steps required to make the business sustainable include:

  • Good processes and systems
  • Having a great team that all know what their roles are and how to do them, including the owner
  • Team members trained to cover each others tasks
  • A good data base system or customer relation system, so all the team have access to information about your customers and can help them out
  • Others having access to your emails, to keep on top of them

Then when you go away, even though you will be missed, the place won’t fall apart without you.

I came back from a month away to a clear desk and an inbox of about 12 emails. My team did a great job keeping everything up to date

Privacy Act

What safeguards do you have to ensure you maintain your clients Privacy and that your clients information doesn’t get into the wrong hands?

I am sure you all have better processes than the lawyer in last week’s paper who used the back of sensitive documents to photocopy information for sending to other clients! And that you have systems in place to avoid ACC style document mail outs. But systems and personnel change so it may be a good time to check your processes and review the requirements.

Here at BW we are all for recycling as much paper as possible but privacy is paramount and we are aware that a lot of the information we handle is for your eyes only. Rest assured your records and details are securely stored and we securely destroy all unwanted documents and don’t use client information for scrap. Our staff are all aware that information is sensitive and don’t divulge any of your details to others outside of BW unless you give permission.

Have you thought about the information you and your staff have access to? And have you discussed with them the unintended consequences that can come from casual conversations- many may not be aware that what is a normal conversation at work can really backfire in the wrong setting

Even with the best processes mistakes can happen. If you are on the receiving end of someone else’s error please think how you would like your information treated and resist the temptation to read it, contact the sender and either destroy it or return it as soon as possible.

To find out more about your responsibilities Business.govt.nz has some very good information and guidelines for processes as well as some examples of relevant situations.

If you have any concerns about your data or privacy please give us a call.