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  • Individual Taxpayer Liaison Group minutes 29 October 2015

    Meeting details

    Venue: ATO National Office, Canberra

    Date: 29 October 2015

    Chair: Steve Vesperman

    Contact: email Individuals Stewardship Group

    Attendees

    Members

    Organisation

    Hameed Nida

    Adult Multicultural Education Services

    Robert Curley

    Association of Independent Retirees

    Edward Patching

    Australian Shareholders Association

    Carmel Franklin

    Financial Counselling Australia

    Erin Gillen

    Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Council of Australia

    Mark Chapman

    H&R Block

    Craig Hall

    National Seniors

    Letty Tsoi

    Taxpayers Australia

    Kirsten Embery

    The Treasury

    ATO

     

    Steve Vesperman

    Deputy Commissioner Small Business/Individual Taxpayers

    Graham Whyte

    Assistant Deputy Commissioner Small Business/Individual Taxpayers

    Robyn Clayton

    Assistant Commissioner Small Business/Individual Taxpayers

    Daniel Bamford

    Assistant Commissioner Customer Services and Solutions

    Cheryl-Lea Field

    Deputy Commissioner Debt

    Kate Wilson

    Senior Director Superannuation

    Christina Byrnes

    Director Small Business/Individual Taxpayers

    Shirley Forlin

    Director ATO Corporate

    Apologies

    Members

    Organisation

    Frank Brass

    H&R Block

    Michael O’Neill

    National Seniors

    Therese Sands

    People with Disability Australia

    John Shepherd

    Assistant Commissioner Superannuation

    Disclaimer

    Individual Taxpayer Liaison Group agendas, minutes and related papers are not binding on the ATO or any of the other bodies referred to in these papers. While every effort is made to accurately record the views expressed, the wording necessarily represents a summary of statements of general position only, and care should be taken in interpreting those statements. These papers reflect the position at the date of release (unless otherwise noted) and readers should note that the position on any issue may subsequently change.

    1. Welcome and introductions

    Chair, Steve Vesperman, opened the meeting and welcomed members. The agenda was noted and minutes from the previous meeting endorsed.

    Steve noted as of 1 November 2015 the ATO business line which managed interactions with Individuals and Small Business will be split. Steve remains as Deputy Commissioner and client experience owner for Small Business. Alison Lendon will be Deputy Commissioner and client experience owner for Individuals and will chair this forum in 2016.

    2. Reinventing the ATO

    To assist in guiding the ATO’s Reinvention program for Individuals 2016/17 program of work, a client experience workshop was held with community members recently. Feedback from this workshop included:

    • Client Profile, including a digital ‘space’ that delivers greater visibility of information and transactions in the same way that clients experience with other organisations such as online banking
    • Education, in particular targeting people joining the system (e.g. youth, migrants), recognising that people’s earliest interactions with the tax and super systems will shape their long term attitude towards it
    • Show me what and how, for example better transparency of what tailored services and tools are available and showing people how to use them through practical demonstrations
    • Fix the basics to remove irritants, streamline interactions to make it easier for clients
    • Understanding Individuals and their needs through ongoing consultation and engagement, including checking how changes we’ve delivered are affecting the client experience.

    The ATO and Department of Human Services (DHS) are working in partnership to resolve issues with myGov that some clients were experiencing, for example complex log on process, stability and capacity of system.

    3. Digital transformation

    An overview of the digital services that are now available, which were co-designed to reflect client needs as follows:

    • individuals can update their details across all their linked government services using the “tell us once” function in myGov
    • clients can see and action correspondence from all linked agencies in one clients can view a personalised homepage for their tax and super affairs, with an increasing number of functions available online, such as managing Pay As You Go Instalments
    • in 2016 all individual taxpayers (including those in business) will be able to use myTax to lodge online
    • clients can now record tax deductible expenses (such as donations, travel expenses and other work related expenses) on the go using the myDeductions feature in the ATOapp. Deductible amounts can then be uploaded directly into next year’s tax return
    • individual taxpayers can log into myGov using voice authentication through the ATOapp, removing the need to remember the username and password
    • improvements for tax agents with practice management software, providing a better client experience for those taxpayers who choose to use an agent
    • clients can also explore and provide feedback on proposed improvements, such as the virtual assistant, through the ATO beta website (beta.ato.gov.au)
    • the web chat service is also being expanded to assist people with their queries and assist them to self-help options through the website

    4. Tax help

    Over 850 tax help volunteers in 642 centres assisted over 35,000 clients to lodge their returns, with the vast majority able to lodge online through myTax, reducing e-tax and paper usage. In 2016, the ATO will seek feedback from volunteers about the best way to assist Tax Help clients in the future, including expanding training to build capability to self-lodge using myTax. The ATO is committed to ensuring volunteers and resources are available in the areas of greatest need; and that there is a good understanding of the barriers to lodging online for TaxHelp clients who have not been able to make the transition this year.

    5. Our approach to collecting debt

    The ATO is working with the community to take timely action, including firmer action where appropriate, and ensuring that businesses meet their obligations to employees for tax and super contributions.

    Key improvements to make it easier for clients to keep on top of payments include:

    • due dates/calendar reminders through the ATOapp
    • prompts and reminders through email and SMS
    • an easy to use online payment system
    • an easy to use tool to help work out a viable payment plan for any debts
    • for those needing to make a payment play, many can do this online
    • taxpayers who wish to do so can now pre-pay their tax

    Training and support resources have been improved to enable staff in the ATO’s contact centres respond more appropriately to the individual’s situation. Improvements to Debt correspondence include payment options, support and assistance available and ramifications of not paying. The members expressed an interest in having letters available in languages other than English.

    6. Deceased estates

    ‘Improving the client experience for citizens dealing with the ATO and government when managing a deceased estate’ was a topic for consultation. The key recommendations included:

    • improvements to the information available on the ATO website
    • improving linkages to the existing checklist available through DHS
    • adopting a “tell us once” approach to reduce the need for people to deal with multiple agencies to inform them of a death
    • enhancements to myGov to facilitate access for deceased estate situations
    • raise the priority for processing deceased estate returns and
    • enhanced training for contact centre staff.

    The ATO is happy to receive further feedback on this program of work as the recommendations are implemented.

    7. Certainty project

    The update on the certainty project (letters advising that a check of their tax return has been completed) was deferred to the next meeting.

    8. New look and feel of the ATO website and beta site

    Members were provided with a brief visual demonstration of the new look and feel for the ATO and beta websites.

    Members were encouraged to try out the virtual assistant on the beta siteExternal Link.

    9. Post implementation review of ATO consultative arrangements

    Members were provided with the key recommendations arising from the Post Implementation Review of ATO Consultative Arrangements.

    10. Member organisation update/general business

    Treasury - tax reform options is progressing and will continue in 2016.

    Taxpayers Australia (TA) - developed resources to educate people about scams, contributing to the Inspector-General of Taxation’s review of Employer Obligations.

    H&R Block - developing a financial literacy program.

    Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Council of Australia (FECCA) - ongoing program of work to support access and equity for ethnic communities using digital services.

    Adult Multicultural Education Services (AMES) - preparing for information sessions to support the intake of refugees and additional intake from Syria over the coming year.

    Australian Shareholders Association (ASA) – working with ATO to assist members with information about how to get the best out of the ATO website.

    National Seniors - participated in the “making it easier project” for Deceased Estates.

    Concluding remarks

    Steve noted that the ATO has started on the biennial refresh of membership for this forum and has called for expressions of interest from prospective members. It is expected that some current members will continue in 2016 and we will also see some new members in 2016.

    Steve thanked everyone for their contributions during the meeting and throughout the year.

      Last modified: 24 Mar 2016QC 48567