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KPI 1 performance summary

Last updated 4 February 2021

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.

S1, A2


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

1, 4, 5, S2


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

2, 3

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

Performance either improved or met target for six of the eight metrics for this KPI, with one showing a decline, and one based on activities.

Positive outcomes were achieved during 2019–20 with respect to improved results for availability of key digital systems, proportion of inbound transactions received digitally for key services, and compliance costs for individuals. We also met our performance target for the reduction in the administrative cost to business and government in dealing with each other. We did however see an increase in the number of complaints received, predominantly due to higher community interest and interactions arising from the implementation of the COVID-19 stimulus measures and the low and middle income tax offset.

Activity-based examples

Through our focus on payment and debt management the ATO aims to improve taxpayers’ understanding of their obligations and, where possible, prevent debt. We work proactively with taxpayers and have developed new products and services to make payment easier and to address debts as soon as possible. In 2019–20, we:

  • enhanced our payment plan services, introducing opt-in payment plan instalment reminders, with nearly 800,000 reminders sent during the year
  • incorporated the online payment plan service into Online services for agents
  • implemented our single client accounting system and further developed our data and analytics program
  • through our ‘Better as Usual’ program, began raising staff awareness of the interconnectedness of taxpayers’ interactions with the ATO as an end-to-end process.

These initiatives also improved our understanding of whether a client’s behaviour is driven by an inability to engage with us or an ongoing intentional failure to do so and enabled us to provide the most appropriate support according to the circumstances. During the latter part of 2019–20, assisting clients impacted by disasters such as flooding, bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic has been a critical focus for our organisation.

Our complex issue and case program manages matters that do not fit within our standard processes. We adopt tailored approaches to suit each situation, using innovative solutions, showing empathy, and looking through the client’s ‘lens’. Along with complex cases and issues that threaten system integrity, this work is providing insights into how the ATO can work ‘better as usual’. The program is helping to improve processes, procedures, communications and systems across our less-complex client interactions.

Along with protecting revenue, the ATO is charged with protecting people’s superannuation. Our work on superannuation guarantee assurance focuses on using data in our approach to reduce the super guarantee gap and on improving transparency of member information, enabling individuals to proactively engage with their superannuation through ATO Online.

Our use of data to identify risks to the superannuation system has also enabled us to influence positive behavioural change through preventative approaches, and to identify and address employers who make an overt decision not to comply with their obligations.

In 2019–20, we:

  • implemented targeted education and prevention activities for industries with a history of underpayment or late payment
  • conducted a pro-active communications campaign, contacting employers with a history of paying their super guarantee contributions late, reminding them of their obligation to lodge super guarantee charge statements and pay the charge – resulting in improved lodgment of statements without further intervention and a corresponding improvement in on-time payment by these employers the following quarter

The implementation of Single Touch Payroll (STP) provided employers (and tax practitioners) with digital end-to-end services to report payroll and superannuation information and allowed this payroll data to be pre-filled into individuals’ income tax returns and business activity statements.

As at 30 June 2020, over 707,000 or 86% of employers were reporting through STP, comprising 99% of employers with 20 or more employees and 82% of employers with 19 or fewer employees. We received 10.8 million income statements from 196,000 employers during Tax Time 2019, on behalf of over 8.6 million individuals, some of whom had multiple employers.

STP was a key enabler for the JobKeeper program. Having the majority of employers across Australia reporting their salary and wage information through STP provided a level of inbuilt integrity across the program and improved the experience for those employers through pre-populated STP data.

STP was recognised through the Institute of Public Administration Australia (IPAA) Awards 2020, awarded as the winner in the category for ‘Culture and Capability’, demonstrating the innovation and scale of the program and the broader cultural change for the ATO and businesses.

More information about STP is available at

During the year, we provided tailored support to our various client groups to help them meet their obligations as easily as possible through contemporary tools, systems and services.

Measuring availability of our digital systems ensures that we understand the reliability of services for clients interacting digitally. During 2019–20, our key digital systems were highly available to the community (99.7% availability, excluding scheduled outages). We are investing in improvements that continue to increase the resilience and availability of ATO digital services, so that critical services are secure, highly available and scaled appropriately for the expected increase in transaction volumes.

In 2019–20, the Australian Business Register (ABR) remained a trusted source of data for business, government and the community, with over 1.5 billion searches using ABN Lookup. We continued to make improvements to the register and the registration process to ensure the experience strikes the right balance between making it easy to get things right, and hard not to.

By promoting a common language for business information and standards for electronic information sharing, the Standard Business Reporting program contributed to a total annual reduction of $1.95 billion in administrative savings to business and the government in 2019–20, relative to the costs of businesses using lodgment methods via previous systems.

To meet the dramatic increase in demand for our services due to COVID-19, we extended our contact centre hours and mobilised our staff – with around 2,000 staff diverted to support our front-line services (such as contact centres) and around a further 3,800 redirected to priority work on the delivery of stimulus measures.