Show download pdf controls
  • Behavioural insights in the ATO

    Behavioural insights help better understand why, when and how people make decisions.

    We use behavioural insights principles to make it as easy as possible for people to meet their tax and super obligations.

    We aim to implement best practice approaches and look to the experiences of like-minded tax agencies domestically and around the world.

    Key behavioural insights principles

    Some of the key behavioural insights principles we regularly use include:

    • make it easy – design processes, systems and engagement approaches that minimise taxpayers’ effort to meet their obligations
    • provide certainty about our processes, timeframes and how to fulfil obligations
    • target our approach and personalise our messages
    • provide transparency about what we know and what we are doing
    • emphasise the cost of not taking action
    • provide planning prompts and limit content length to manage cognitive limits
    • use social norms and rankings to encourage the right behaviours
    • emphasise the contribution paying tax and super makes to the community
    • use better layouts, design and colours to highlight key messages.

    We have been applying behavioural insights for a number of years. This includes helping people to:

    • pay debts, lodge on time and report accurately
    • shift from paper to digital interactions
    • adopt new policies/obligations.

    Examples of the ATO’s use of behavioural insights

    • We make it easier for people to complete their tax return by pre-filling income, salary, dividend and private health insurance details in myTax.
    • We help people get their work related expense claims right with real-time pop-up messages in myTax letting them know when their claims appear out of step with their peers.
    • We provide greater certainty to individuals using myTax about the progress of processing their return, by sending personalised emails and text messages.
    • We help taxpayers to pay their debts on time. For example, in 2016–17 we sent 560,000 text message reminders resulting in $800 million collected on time.
    Last modified: 29 Aug 2017QC 53187