Indicators of willing participation

Compliance with tax and superannuation obligations involves correctly registering in the system, lodging tax information on time, reporting complete and accurate information and paying tax obligations on time.

We are confident that the majority of individuals who should be registered in the system are registered, based on analysis of actual registrations and demographic data.

A steady and sustained increase in on-time lodgment of income tax returns by individuals over recent years has been achieved through more effective and earlier engagement with taxpayers.

Since 2014–15, there has been a gradual but sustained improvement in tax payment performance. Over the year to 30 June 2016, the collectable debt owed by individuals fell by 8.2% while the number of cases of collectable debt fell by 11.4%.

This reflects our program to reduce the level and incidence of outstanding tax debt through early intervention, such as SMS reminders to habitual late-payers, and extending the options available to taxpayers to set up and commit to payment plans online.

Taxpayers' overall commitment to participating in the system is reflected in the steady increase in the use of ATO online services. People report that our services are easier to use, and that information is more reliable and easier to understand.

Other factors driving willing participation are community satisfaction and perceptions of fairness about the ATO's integrity and professionalism in our interactions. Surveys of people who had recently dealt with us indicate that in 2015–16:

  • the level of satisfaction with the ATO remained relatively steady
  • there was a significant increase in the proportion of people who, having disputed an ATO decision, agreed that the process was fair
  • perceptions of professionalism remained relatively steady – as measured by the extent to which people agreed that the ATO listens and responds to feedback.

The survey findings also showed that individuals held less favourable perceptions of fairness than other market segments and that we could do more to help people get it right – recognising that most taxpayers only interact with us once a year. As such, we are actively working with our staff to make the most of every community interaction: working with clients to take their personal circumstances into account, keeping them regularly informed about the progress of their case or issues that arise, and being transparent about the decisions we make. We will continue to monitor perceptions to ensure the changes we are making are having a positive effect in the community.