Transitioning paper lodgers online

The Transitioning paper lodgers online research was conducted by Inside Story in December 2013 and January 2014.

Lodgment of tax returns via paper has steadily decreased. At the same time, the ATO continues to improve its online services to meet community expectations.

Over the past three years, we’ve developed community engagement and support strategies to assist paper-lodging taxpayers transition to online lodgment. Changes have also been made to streamline the paper product.

In 2011, Understanding paper lodgers 2011 research was conducted with individual taxpayers who lodged their tax return on paper. This research quantified paper lodgers who were unwilling or unable to transition to online lodgment. It explored the characteristics of these sub groups to understand the barriers to online lodgment.

The aim of this subsequent research in December 2013 and January 2014 was to go beyond what was learnt in Understanding paper lodgers 2011 and further explore the barriers these taxpayers face to online lodgment – and what the ATO could do to support them to transition.

The objectives of this research are to:

  • confirm (re-quantify) the proportion of paper lodgers who are unwilling or unable to transition to online lodgment
  • understand how paper lodgers use technology (e.g. communications (including social media) and transactions (banking and shopping)) to deal with other government agencies
  • explore attitudes to using devices and skills to transition to online lodgment
  • explore barriers to online lodgment
  • explore how the ATO can support paper lodgers to transition
  • understand paper lodgers’ expectations of lodgment options into the future.

Key insights from the research

Access to the internet is high among paper lodgers (74%).

  • 53% of paper lodgers consists of two sub groups: those that are ‘willing and able’ to transition to online lodgment – and those that are able, however ‘unwilling’ to transition.
    • 27% of paper lodgers have the capability and willingness to move to online lodgment (willing and able). Qualitative discussion has revealed that for some paper lodgers only a ‘small nudge’ is required to make the transition.
    • 26% pertains to the other sub group who have the capability but are unwilling. They will require more than a small nudge.
  • Since 2011 there has been an increase in number of paper lodgers who are both ‘unwilling and unable’ to transition (up to 38% from 33%), as might be expected with more paper lodgers having taken up online lodgment.
  • 47% of paper lodgers are unable to lodge online, either because they lack access to a computer or the internet or they consider their computer skills are not adequate for the task (‘unwilling and unable’). This group has increased from 41% to 47% since 2011. It is important to acknowledge this group will require significant support services to enable them to transition to online lodgment.
  • The features of e-tax lodgment are not widely known. These include pre-filled data (only 39% of paper lodgers aware), refund estimates (44% aware) and built-in calculators (45% aware). Qualitative research highlighted the interest in these features as they offer benefits to the taxpayer.
  • Almost a third of paper lodgers say they would never consider online lodgment (31%). Over half (52%) of 60+ year olds would never consider online lodgment.
  • Two thirds (66%) of first time e-tax lodgers consider online lodgment is easier than paper lodgment.

How the research is being used

The research confirmed and updated findings from 2011 – and extended our understanding of the barriers paper lodgers face to transitioning to online lodgment.

The research informed strategy development for Tax Time 2014. It has also informed both communication strategies and the development of support services to assist paper lodgers to transition to online lodgment.

The research will continue to be used to inform the development of community engagement, support and paper lodgment strategies for future years.

Find out more

Transitioning Paper Lodgers Online (1.28MB)

End of find out more
    Last modified: 14 Oct 2014QC 42831