Tax practitioner research program 2011
Each year we conduct a tax practitioner research program. This year the program consisted of:
Our latest survey results 'Tax agent perceptions survey 2011' and 'Tax agent services survey 2011' show that there has been a decline in satisfaction, since the last reported survey results in 2010. Overall results from the BAS agent and tax agent technology survey were generally positive.
To better understand the results and shift in satisfaction and perceptions, we commissioned a research company to undertake further in-depth interviews with tax agents.
Preliminary themes of this research suggest that this change in satisfaction is a reflection of tax agents' experiences associated with issues related to implementation of new systems in 2010. Tax agents are also rating our services as 'neutral' or 'neither satisfied or dissatisfied', rather than positive. This is because while we continually work to make incremental improvements to our services, we have not delivered major technology improvements specifically for agents since we introduced the portal or fast key codes for calling us.
There is also an underlying concern about the inherent complexity associated with the work done by tax practitioners.
We have found that the intensive work we did with the ATO tax practitioner forum and professional associations in the lead up to and during Tax Time 2011, coupled with our focus on improving our service during this time, has also had a positive effect on our involvement and engagement with tax practitioners and professional associations.
In addition to Tax Time, we have also been working with our consultative forums to identify key and practical ways to address concerns that have appeared in the survey results. Some of these initiatives have included:
- decreasing call wait times for tax agents by increasing the number of staff and increasing their skills and capability through training, particularly during Tax Time
- continuing to work closely with our consultative forums to raise the awareness of our differentiated and balanced approach to the collection of tax and superannuation debt
- working with tax practitioners, including use of site visits, to understand how agents use the portal and areas where we can improve its usability
- looking at practical ways to manage any unplanned or planned outages of ATO systems with tax practitioners at our ATO Tax Practitioner Forum (eg piloting SMS alerts)
- extending the professional-to-professional service for tax agents to approved auditors of superannuation funds and legal practitioners, enabling greater access to specialised and timely advice for practitioners.
The research currently underway, together with the work we do with tax practitioners and their professional associations will help us to further understand practitioners' concerns. This is important to us because of the valuable role which tax practitioners have in the smooth operation of our tax and superannuation systems.