Activity statement update newsletter 2011
The Activity statement update is an important component of the information we send to assist and support taxpayers. It is sent to taxpayers who receive a paper business activity statement (BAS) or instalment activity statement (IAS). In addition to the Activity statement update, each recipient of a paper BAS with goods and services tax (GST) obligations is also sent a GST worksheet to assist with their calculations.
In 2011, we commissioned independent research company, Sweeney Research, to conduct qualitative research (focus groups) with small businesses, and not-for-profit organisations to seek feedback on the overall effectiveness of the Activity statement update and GST worksheet and to identify where we could improve the products.
Key insights from the research findings
This information may not apply to the current year. Check the content carefully to ensure it is applicable to your circumstances.
End of attention
Participants in the focus group discussions were highly engaged with tax matters as a topic and in particular business activity statements. Key findings from the research include:
- Most participants could not recall receiving the Activity statement update along with their quarterly BAS form, though most recognised the publication when it was presented to them.
- More than half the participants assumed the publication was some form of advertising or promotional material from the ATO, or they expected it would be irrelevant to them.
- The dominant view was that the layout of the publication seemed fresh, clear and easy to read.
- Including tax updates by industry would have merit, and a more tailored publication including tax information relevant to a specific sector was appealing.
- The Activity statement update fitted well with the quarterly BAS process and it was intuitive that the publications be sent together.
- Moving the Activity statement update to an online format has merit, and is what most businesses expect us to do.
- There was universal rejection of the prospect of receiving additional material -all participants reported feeling inundated with the amount of information (whether electronic or hard copy) they currently receive, and additional information would be unwarranted and excessive.
- Participants felt relatively confident and comfortable that preparing their BAS remained straightforward, and that they, or their agent, completed the form satisfactorily.
- The GST worksheet is generally discarded upon receipt and the paper version is no longer needed (but should be retained as a download on our website).
- Suggested improvements include a more formal visual aesthetic, renaming the product to provide purpose and clarity, and a customised newsletter with targeted information.
How the research is being used
Activity statement update
This research has been used as the first step for a review of the Activity statement update, and how it can be better tailored to its audience. To further inform any changes to the publication a follow up survey (at no cost) was promoted in the March 2011 edition of the publication, with direct feedback received from 450 micro businesses. The intelligence gathered from the survey and the research report was then used to develop a mock-up of an improved publication, featuring a new name, new aesthetic and new direction.
This mock-up was then tested at a number of external forums including the:
- Small Business Partnership
- Micro Business Online Forum
- Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Community
- BAS Agent Advisory Group (out of session).
It was also retested with 95 of the respondents from our original survey.
Following this research and testing, the Activity statement update newsletter is to be renamed as the Back to business bulletin, from the quarter 2 edition in the 2012/13 financial year (December 2012). The publication will continue to be monitored on an ongoing basis to ensure it remains relevant and helpful to the audience.
The report findings have informed a review of the GST calculation worksheet's distribution strategy.
We apologise for the delay in publishing this report.