Small and Medium Enterprise Perceptions Survey (SMEPS) 2013

During 2013 we refreshed our Small and Medium Enterprise Perceptions Survey to provide greater insight into small and medium enterprises (SME) perceptions of the tax system. New focus areas included:

  • five new statements to evaluate the confidence of SME businesses in dealing with tax obligations for their employees
  • questions regarding awareness of superannuation obligations for contractors
  • new questions on the perceptions on how effectively the ATO deals with the tax obligations of the wealthy in Australia
  • new questions asking SME businesses hypothetically, how they would deal with outstanding tax debts.

Future SME research will be undertaken through a single perception survey giving deeper, comparable insights from across a broader range of Australian community segments.

Key insights from the research



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  • SME businesses had a good understanding of their tax obligations (95% Net agree) and this has remained consistent over time. However, SME businesses are finding their business tax affairs are becoming increasingly complex, with 71% reporting this in 2013 compared with 63% in 2011 and 69% in 2012.
  • SME businesses were generally confident that they were filling out their business tax returns and activity statements correctly, with almost all (99%) strongly agreeing or agreeing with the statement ‘I am confident that the tax returns and activity statements are filled out correctly’.
  • SME businesses feel confident in managing Pay As You Go Withholding (PAYGW) tax; with 97% feeling very confident or reasonably confident with this tax obligation.
  • SME businesses that had had contact with the ATO in the last 12 months were more likely to feel confident in managing PAYGW tax (98% Net confident) compared with those who had not had contact (94% Net confident).
  • SME businesses generally felt confident in managing Employment Termination Payments (ETP) with 85% feeling very confident or reasonably confident with this tax obligation.
  • Four in five (80% Net confident) SME businesses felt confident in their understanding of superannuation obligations for contractors.
  • Opinions were split concerning perceptions of how effectively the ATO deals with the tax obligations of the rich in Australia with two in five (40%) SMEs feeling that the ATO deals with the tax obligation of the rich in Australia effectively, but a similar proportion (38%) disagreeing, and 22% saying they did not know.

How the research has been used

Findings from the 2013 Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) perceptions survey are being used to support the work we are doing to engage and assist SME businesses in meeting their tax and super obligations. Some of the key initiatives influenced by the survey results include:

  • The results have provided insights which will be combined with other intelligence and performance information to review and inform our communication strategies, educational products and services. To improve our customer experience we are exploring new contemporary services. For example, SMS and secure messaging.
  • We are continuing to engage and consult with SME’s to improve our understanding of their circumstances and the issues they face. For example we have recently launched ‘Let's Talk’. Let’s Talk is an online engagement platform which enables us to connect with different communities through a range of online interactions.
  • We are evaluating and refreshing the Small and medium enterprises and wealthy: our compliance approach publication which was released in mid-2012.
  • Continuing to develop our capability in the area of alternative dispute resolution to reduce in disputed tax debt and the number of cases being appealed in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and courts.

Find out more  

The detailed findings please see Small and Medium Enterprise Perceptions Survey 2013 (PDF 1.66MB)

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More information

Contact the Corporate Research Centre

    Last modified: 06 Mar 2015QC 38987