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  • KPI 1 performance summary

    Regulators do not unnecessarily impede the efficient operation of regulated entities

    The following table shows the measures of good regulatory performance and the related metrics. The results of the metrics and analysis are outlined in the Appendix.





    Demonstrate an understanding of the operating environment of the industry or organisation, or the circumstances of individuals and the current and emerging issues that affect the sector.



    Take actions to minimise the potential for unintended negative impacts of ATO activities on taxpayers or affected supplier industries and supply chains.



    Implement continuous improvement strategies to reduce the costs of compliance for taxpayers.


    Self-assessment rating: Good

    This assessment is based on the results of the metrics relating to each measure and the examples of how we have reduced impediments to the efficient operation of regulated entities.

    Summary of metric results

    There was a performance improvement in ten of the 15 metrics for this KPI with four remaining relatively stable and one outcome showing a decline.

    However, we recognise that system failures in December 2016 and February 2017 created challenges for tax practitioners and the superannuation industry. In response, the ATO maintained communications and provided additional time for practitioners to meet obligations where affected through these periods and to deal with the ongoing impacts as they worked to catch up. We maintained communication and, with Australian Prudential Regulation Authority’s (APRA) assistance, we provided additional time for APRA-regulated super funds to meet their obligations. We improved our incident communication protocols and are working with industry to implement business continuity plans to ensure the resilience of the superannuation system.

    In addition, there was a decline in one metric for this KPI relating to communication of our decision to consult on matters submitted and it remains an area of focus for 2017–18, in providing more timely responses to relevant stakeholders.

    Activity-based examples

    Our early engagement for advice service provides clients and their advisers with the opportunity to engage our specialist officers to discuss technical issues associated with complex transactions being considered before they are implemented. This service allows clients to send us a request for advice or to request a call back from one of our specialists. These discussions allow us to better understand the client’s circumstances, work together to resolve issues and determine our additional information requirements as quickly as possible.

    Small Business Fix-it Squads are rapid-design projects where small business owners, federal, state and local government agencies, and intermediaries work together to examine and resolve problems affecting small business owners.

    To date, with the help of our partners, we have consulted with more than 300 small business owners across a number of areas, such as the sharing economy, drought assistance and building and construction. As a result, 41 recommendations have emerged, with 28 implemented, saving Australian small business owners an estimated 1.7 million hours per annum. In 2017–18, we will focus on implementing the final squad recommendations and will review how squads can be best used in future.

    We completed 161 formal early engagement for advice requests from privately owned and wealthy groups and responded to a further 214 enquiries about the service over the year. We also improved our online content during the year to make it easier for clients to request advice or a call back.

    The success of the service is highlighted by increasing demand from private groups. Other client groups have also requested access to the service, and we extended it to small businesses and individuals in September 2016.

    Through our tax performance programs for the ‘Top 1,000’ public groups and ‘Top 320’ private groups, we engage and consult with taxpayers from the earliest possible point to ensure they are paying the right amount of tax or identifying areas of non-compliance. These programs encourage behavioural change by working closely with taxpayers to treat risks of tax avoidance.

    In consultation with the superannuation industry, we led the planning and implementation of SuperStream as part of the government’s 2010 Super Reform Program. SuperStream has greatly accelerated the standardisation of employers’ super contributions on behalf of their employees. It involves employers sending all super payments and employee information electronically in a standard format.

    As an administrator and regulator of self-managed superannuation funds (SMSF), we have responsibility for SMSF regulatory and income tax compliance. We work in collaboration with other government agencies, engaging with associations and SMSF professionals to effectively mitigate key risks to the sector.

    Our Not-for-profit Stewardship Group includes key members of the not-for-profit (NFP) sector, as well as representatives from the ACNC and Treasury. Members work with the ATO to identify opportunities to improve the client experience or the law. Many of the new initiatives we introduced this year were a result of the active participation of this group. We also recently conducted a survey of approximately 700 NFPs to help us better understand the experience NFPs have when they interact with the ATO.

    Alex, the ATO website’s virtual assistant, has engaged in 1.5 million conversations since being launched at the end of February 2016, resolving more than 81% of client enquiries at first contact and contributing to reducing demands on our call centres. As at 30 June 2017, Alex can now respond to over 500 types of client questions and this service continues to expand.

    Other support services we provide include:

    • the Tax Help program, which provided assistance to 30,400 low income taxpayers in around 610 locations through the dedicated work of almost 820 volunteers. Included in the program are 53 centres that specifically serve people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, and 21 that specifically serve Indigenous Australians.
    • ATO Shopfronts, supplemented with 31 pop-up tax time booths in major shopping centres, concentrated in geographic areas where needs are greatest, which helped some 5,640 taxpayers with general enquiries and the transition to digital services.
    • services to taxpayers in regional and remote areas in partnership with Services Australia through Services Australia mobile service centres.
    • participating in 150 seminars and other events, to provide information on ATO services and context about the operation of the tax and superannuation systems.

    In addition, we piloted web-chat and screen-share services for myTax users, allowing them to interact with an ATO staff member for support while completing their tax return, and share their screen for help with navigation and features. Having proved popular with clients and staff, web-chat and screen-share are available for Tax Time 2017.

      Last modified: 20 Dec 2017QC 54083