• Tax practitioner research 2011-12

    Overview

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    In 2011 we commissioned independent research company, ChantLink, to conduct the 2011-12 Tax practitioner research project.

    Tax practitioners, including registered tax agents and registered business activity statement (BAS) agents, contribute significantly to the tax and superannuation systems, given the key role they play in positively influencing willing participation in these systems.

    This research is part of an ongoing program of listening to the community, through our consultation and research, to gauge current perceptions about our administration and ensure that our services continue to support the needs of tax practitioners.

    Key insights from the research findings

    The tax practitioner research program findings indicate there has been a slight improvement in tax agent perceptions of whether we are doing a good job, although results remain at moderate levels, at 54% (50% in 2011). We also observed that a further 20% of those surveyed have a neutral view of our performance and overall service.

    This is reflected in additional qualitative research conducted by ChantLink, which indicates that tax agent perceptions are significantly more positive. At the JCPAA hearing of 23 September 2011, The Tax Institute's assessment of our performance was that 'overall they do a good job'. In its Report 426 the JCPAA:

    …commends the ATO on their engagement with tax practitioners, especially around Tax Time. The work of the Tax Practitioners Forum in developing tips to reduce common errors and communicate warnings around the risk of over claiming and fraud was noted. The Tax Agent Portal was highly praised by tax industry professionals.

    The research did show an improvement in the level of satisfaction with our overall service, with tax agents' satisfaction up from 51% in 2011 to 62%. Tax agents had high levels of job satisfaction up from 73% in 2011 to 83%. We will look to build on this in 2012-13.

    Quantitative research found 94% viewed the portal as useful for their business and this is supported by qualitative feedback. Strong feedback from peak tax practitioner consultative forums led us to focus initially on improving portal stability as a priority.

    In 2012-13, we will be making copies of notice of assessments available via the Tax Agent Portal. This functionality was the first preference of the vast majority of tax agents surveyed. It is likely that perceptions of service and performance will remain neutral without further investment in functional enhancements or a similar major change.

    While business activity statement (BAS) agents were not surveyed in 2011, in 2012 the quantitative responses from BAS agents were generally more positive than tax agents, with 70% of BAS agents being satisfied with our overall service.

    In the middle of 2011-12, we launched a Tax practitioner action plan 2011-15 to invest in improving our engagement and relationship with tax practitioners. The plan was developed directly based on feedback from tax practitioners via our numerous consultative forums and our research program.

    How the research is being used

    Findings from our consultation and research support the work we are already doing to assist and support tax practitioners.

    To further improve our relationship with tax practitioners we launched a Tax practitioner action plan in 2012. The action plan is shaped by the feedback we receive from the profession and particularly the research we commission each year to establish what issues are important to the tax profession. The action plan maps our path forward to 2015.

    Key initiatives or improvements we are making include:

    • making copies of the notice of assessments available via the Tax Agent Portal in 2012-13 - this functionality was the first preference of the vast majority of tax agents surveyed
    • an enhancement to the BAS Agent Portal that allows BAS agents to view client account information from September 2012
    • the formation of an Electronic Advisory Working Group (a sub-committee of the National Tax Liaison Group) so that we can engage and consult with the tax profession around the future direction of our electronic service delivery and interaction
    • a streamlined complaint resolution process
    • improved and quicker data delivery as part of our pre-filling service
    • increased investment in our engagement with tax practitioners - for example, engagement with regional tax practitioners, expansion of our relationship manager program and adoption of a tailored approach to our interactions
    • successful engagement with tax practitioners through tax time via
      • weekly meetings with Australian Tax Practitioners Forum members
      • publication of tax time information for practitioners on the Tax Professionals page of our website
      • regular tax time communications via e-link, webcasts, broadcasts and the TAXAGENT magazine
       
    • reshaping the lodgment program for tax agents to support greater electronic interaction and improve the timely lodgment of tax returns.
    Further Information

    The detailed findings from the Tax practitioner research 2011-12 are provided in the full report (volumes 1 to 4), refer to:

    End of further information
      Last modified: 02 Nov 2012QC 26643