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  • KPI 2 performance summary

    Communication with regulated entities is clear, targeted and effective

    The following table shows the measures of good regulatory performance and the related metrics. The results of the metrics and analysis are outlined in the Appendix.





    Provide guidance and information that is up to date, clear, accessible and concise through media appropriate to the target audience.



    Provide decisions and advice in a timely manner, clearly articulating expectations and the underlying reasons for decisions.

    18, 22–23,25–30


    Provide advice that is consistent and supports, where appropriate, predictable outcomes.


    Self-assessment rating: Good

    This assessment is based on the results of the metrics relating to each measure and the examples of how we have maintained clear, targeted and effective communication with regulated entities.

    Summary of metric results

    There was a performance improvement in seven of the 16 metrics for this KPI with two remaining relatively stable and seven showing a decline.

    The key metric showing a decline compared with the previous year is finalising private rulings in 28 calendar days of receiving all necessary information. This was largely due to an increase in complex private ruling requests and a decrease in routine private ruling requests which resulted in an increase in time taken to respond. This will be an area of focus for 2017–18, to ensure more timely responses.

    Although, there was decline in the results for two service commitment outcomes, the targets have been met. A decline in the perceptions that the ATO provides information that can be relied on and understood is a key area of focus for improvement with particular focus on the perceptions of tax professionals.

    Activity-based examples

    We are making a number of changes to how we produce, communicate and deliver public advice and guidance. These changes will make it easier for our clients to find the information they need, when they need it. Changes include:

    • communicating and engaging with our clients about the priority issues for which we will provide public advice and guidance
    • consulting earlier as we form an ATO view on technical taxation issues, prior to developing our public advice and guidance
    • drafting our products in plain English with direct and succinct language – in shorter documents that get straight to the point
    • adopting a new ‘layered’ approach to presenting advice and guidance on our website
    • reviewing and updating older products.

    We are consulting with stakeholders to identify their highest priority issues, and to find new ways of engaging with clients and intermediaries, including better digital options.

    During 2016–17, we published 22 law companion guidelines, which provided specific and early guidance on new law, including Superannuation Reform and goods and services tax (GST) cross-border issues. Of these, 10 were draft and 12 final. We also produced 20 practical compliance guidelines, which provide practical direction to our clients in managing their tax affairs. This comprised 5 draft and 15 final guidelines. Key topics on which these guidelines were published include transfer pricing issues, cross-border related-party financing arrangements and Superannuation Reform.

    Project Refresh is our initiative to modernise our stock of public rulings, through updating, rewriting, consolidating and withdrawing rulings that are no longer relevant. To enhance the level of protection offered to taxpayers, we are re-issuing older income tax and capital gains tax rulings and where possible, consolidating related ATO interpretative decisions into the refreshed rulings. During 2016–17, around 191 rulings were reviewed (in addition to the 921 reviewed in 2015–16), 327 withdrawn, nine updated and five rewritten.

    We have had a 45% reduction in our website content, removing duplication and complexity to allow greater ease of use. Over the past two years, we have removed approximately 5.8 million words from the website.

    We contributed to the Black Economy Taskforce and continued our own action to address the black economy. We contacted more than 11,000 small businesses, and are engaging with many more to demonstrate the range of tools the ATO has to assist them with running their businesses.

    During 2016–17, we took a number of steps to improve understanding of, and compliance with, fringe benefits tax (FBT) obligations. These include:

    • revising our online FBT guide for employers to provide clearer and simpler guidance
    • hosting webinars on different aspects of FBT, such as lodgment, entertainment and not-for-profits, providing an opportunity to connect with clients directly and hear about the challenges they face when navigating through their FBT obligations
    • publishing a practical compliance guideline aimed at reducing compliance costs for employers with car fleets
    • producing two short videos that explain how FBT applies to motor vehicles and lifestyle assets – these videos have been promoted through the ATO’s social media channels
    • continued consultation with employer and practitioner stakeholders to identify opportunities for establishing FBT safe harbours to align the tax treatment with commercial realities and provide appropriate risk mitigation.

    We are also providing contemporary communication and education material to help small businesses understand and meet their super guarantee obligations, including:

    • reminder messaging for the quarterly payment cycle
    • guidance for employers and their advisers on how to check their super obligations in six easy steps
    • use of educational videos, for employers, available on atoTV and YouTube
    • website content and online tools to assist small business employers correctly engage their workers as employees and to calculate their super guarantee payments
    • the SuperStream small business education program, which focuses on small employers not yet SuperStream-compliant in industries with a low digital capability and those in regional Australia.

    To increase awareness, we invested in showing businesses our suite of products and services with a focus on digital. Helping people lodging online, as well as demonstrating services like Alex (our online virtual assistant), our Small Business Newsroom and the ATO app, enhances the client experience, builds their confidence in using digital products and increases the take-up rate. Recent analysis of a group of clients revealed that on-time lodgment of tax returns and business activity statement (BAS) went up significantly after showing them how going online will benefit them.

    We help super fund members to manage their super by providing targeted guidance on changes to the superannuation rules and easy-to-use tools, including tools that help reunite people with their lost super accounts. In implementing changes to contributions caps, the transfer balance cap and to working holidaymaker rules that come into effect over 2017, we released a range of guidance material and ensured staff in our contact centres were equipped to provide personalised help to clients. Further, we directly contacted those likely to be affected.

    The ATO has provided detailed guidance on the tax implications of sharing economy activities, including extensive website information with specific guidance on ride-sourcing and using a home to produce income. Declaratory proceedings in the Federal Court supported the ATO view of the application of GST provisions to ride-sourcing, and clarified the law for small business operators in the ride-sourcing industry.

      Last modified: 20 Dec 2017QC 54083