Understanding paper lodgers 2011

In 2011, we commissioned independent research company, Inside Story, to conduct quantitative and qualitative research with individual taxpayers who lodged their 2009-10 income tax returns on paper to improve our understanding of people's attitudes towards online lodgment.

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.

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The research identified key characteristics relating to people's willingness and capability to lodge their tax returns electronically. Findings from the research will assist us to support more people to transition to online channels. Key findings from the survey include:

  • This research has explored four distinct segments of paper lodgers, determining their approximate numbers and characteristics - it identified that the greatest challenge to online lodgment overall is lack of willingness rather than inability.
  • Most people who self-prepared and lodged their tax returns on paper (nine in ten) are aware that we offer online lodgment, with just over half aware of the term 'e-tax'.
  • Nearly half of those surveyed had never considered lodging electronically and had always lodged on paper, although another quarter reported they had at least attempted online lodgment.
  • A majority of people surveyed (81%) have access to the internet, generally from home, and most (63%) had completed an online banking transaction within the last three months.
  • Just under a third of paper lodgers surveyed were interested in using e-tax, had access to the internet but had been unsuccessful in previous attempts.
  • Over a third were unable to lodge electronically because of technology (access to a computer/internet, system/platform issues) or skills barriers.
  • The remaining third of those surveyed said they could lodge electronically but were unwilling to do so because paper lodgment worked well for them, or they were less confident about doing the right thing when they lodged.
  • There were misconceptions about how e-tax works, with concerns about timing-out, not being able to complete in stages, saving work and retaining a copy.
  • Almost half of respondents were in the 50 years plus age demographic.
  • 19% of people who currently lodge using a paper channel could be readily encouraged to lodge electronically by improving the ease and speed of online lodgment and emphasising its value and convenience for those who self-prepare their tax returns.
  • Features that can improve perceived value and ease of lodging via e-tax include faster tax returns, checklists, built-in skips within the online form, reliable pre-filled information, direct links to further information or explanations and built-in calculators.

How the research is being used

Findings from the research support the work we are doing to assist and support people to move to online lodgment.

The research has been used to:

  • influence our marketing and communication strategy to encourage paper lodgers to lodge online
    • This strategy has included activities such as targeted mailouts, online advertising, a promotional video and material available through other government agencies such as Department of Human Services.
    • Understanding barriers to current paper lodgers moving to online lodgment has enabled much more effective tailoring of the messages in this material.
    • In particular when investigating barriers to using e-tax a number of commonly-held myths about the system were identified.
    • In 2012 our tax-time communications messaging was specifically focused on addressing these myths as a means of encouraging online lodgment.
  • inform the development of a new suite of printed Individual tax return instructions 2012 
    • These products replaced TaxPack and were designed primarily for the circumstances of those who lodge paper returns.
    • This work was complemented by new instructional material on our website.
  • assist in the development of the longer-term strategy for our paper lodgment channel, which over time will increasingly focus on the needs of those who are unable to lodge online - a key component of this strategy will include how we can assist those who can do so, to lodge online.

We apologise for the delay in publishing this report.

Further Information

For detailed findings from the Inside Story research refer to the full report, Understanding paper lodgers (PDF, 3.33MB).

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    Last modified: 09 Nov 2012QC 26660