Micro business perceptions survey - June 2012
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In 2012, we commissioned independent research company, DBM Consultants, to conduct a survey of micro-businesses. The survey sought the views and opinions of respondents about us, our administration, their tax affairs and the service we provide. Businesses surveyed were from two sectors: those with an annual turnover of up to $75,000 and those with an annual turnover of between $75,000 and $2 million. The online survey was conducted in June 2012.
Findings from the June 2012 Micro business perceptions survey indicate:
- The majority of micro-businesses had positive perceptions relating to business tax and the tax system - while still a high result, those who said they have a good understanding of their business tax obligations declined from 89% in 2011 to 83%.
- Almost all micro-businesses (98%) were confident that their business is paying the correct share of tax and agreed it is important that businesses pay their fair share (98%), although nearly half (46%) think that most businesses try to avoid paying their fair share of tax suggesting a perception that tax evasion is present; however, almost two thirds of respondents (64%) agreed they would report tax evasion.
- Most micro-business respondents (80% in 2011 and 79% in 2012) agreed that overall, we are doing a good job and a majority (85%) agreed they have confidence in our administration (82% in 2011) - supporting this, 86% (83% in 2011) think we act with integrity and 81% (80% in 2011) think we are fair and professional.
- There was a significant increase in agreement with the statement that we listen and respond to complaints (from 71% in 2011 to 77%), while agreement that we respect business taxpayers' privacy, although marginally lower than 2011, remained high (86% in 2011 and 84% in 2012).
- There was a number of significant improvements in micro-businesses' perceptions of our service provision in June 2012 compared to 2011. Almost 7 in 10 (68%) respondents agreed to some extent that our service has improved a lot in the last 12 months (59% in 2011) - similarly, there was a significant increase in respondents who feel that it is easier now than in the past to deal with the tax system (66% in 2011 to 73%).
- Most (85%) micro-businesses surveyed agreed to some extent that we offer service and assistance to help businesses understand and meet their tax obligations, and less than half (46%) think we are not concerned about service, only about collecting taxes (51% in 2011) - however nearly half (49%) don't feel comfortable asking us when they need help with their tax obligations (45% in 2011).
- Of micro-businesses that had any contact with us over the past year, their service expectations were mostly met - most agreed their expectations had been met regarding ease of dealing with us (73%), the time taken to deal with enquiries (75%), overall service quality (84%) and professionalism of staff (81%).
- Almost all businesses (96%) surveyed agreed it is important that we deal strongly with people and businesses deliberately avoiding paying tax, in order for the system to be fair (95% in 2011).
- Agreement levels significantly increased for a number of indicators that focus on how effective we, and our communications, are in dealing with those who do not meet their tax obligations - in particular, dealing with businesses who do not declare all their cash earnings (from 56% in 2011 to 69%) and people and businesses who have sought to obtain large refunds to which they were not entitled (from 69% in 2011 to 85%).
Findings from the 2012 Micro business perceptions survey are used to support the work we are already doing to assist these businesses. To further improve our performance, a number of key initiatives have been implemented or are soon to start, including:
- improved community engagement, assistance and support - for example, through
- our Small Business Assistance Program that has a range of assistance options, including webinars, assistance visits and online tools - these, and other services, are actively promoted through third parties, such as national business associations and government agencies
- assistance to entities with changes to the fuel tax credit rates and other measures - for example, updating our online support tools, publishing material on our website (including the latest rates), publishing articles in our various newsletters and industry newsletters, and direct communication with affected entities and their tax agents - we have also held a number of webinars and live chats, and will attend industry field days and expos
- improved communication activities, for example
- measuring the effectiveness of our marketing communication activities for the introduction of taxable payments reporting in the building and construction industry - the survey results have enabled us to set a benchmark for perceptions of effectiveness and in the future will allow us to track our progress in raising awareness of this new reporting system in the industry
- the development of the Pre-issue compliance communication framework 2012-2016 and the Draft pre-issue compliance communications strategy 2013
- using the survey results to continue to provide us with a better understanding of the characteristics, attitudes and behaviours relating to micro-businesses, which allows us to target our messages through the most effective channels
- helping us shape our Tax Time communications strategy for 2013.