Communication with regulated entities is clear, targeted and effective
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.
Provide guidance and information that is up to date, clear, accessible and concise through media appropriate to the target audience.
Provide decisions and advice in a timely manner, clearly articulating expectations and the underlying reasons for decisions.
Provide advice that is consistent and supports, where appropriate, predictable outcomes.
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 maintained clear, targeted and effective communication with regulated entities.
Performance either improved or met target for four of the 11 metrics for this KPI, one was broadly stable, one showed a decline, and five are based on activities.
Our performance exceeded the target for each of our two service commitments. Average completion times increased for private rulings but slightly decreased for objections. There was an improvement in community perceptions around our timeliness and effectiveness. Significant work continues to match resourcing to demand, along with streamlining of systems and processes.
Providing advice and guidance
The ATO tailors its approach to providing public advice and guidance, with web-based guidance, fact sheets, rulings and more detailed explanations users can access depending on their needs. A significant focus throughout 2020–21 was helping the community understand and access a range of economic stimulus measures, including the extension of the JobKeeper payment and the new JobMaker initiatives. We issued public advice and guidance to help taxpayers manage the tax implications of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, adopting practical and pragmatic approaches. This included guidance on the treatment of rent concessions for tenants and landlords, the residency implications for non-resident employees with unplanned presence in Australia as a result of international travel restrictions (including related guidance on employer obligations), and fringe benefits tax considerations for employers where employees’ work patterns had been impacted by COVID-19. We also provided timely guidance on the tax implications of State and Commonwealth Government payments and assistance.
We used a range of channels to reach the community, including a new Tax essentials web page, communications through the media and social media, as well as public and private rulings. In 2020–21, there were 216,000 views of our Tax essentials page and we issued 1,045 social media posts, 40 public rulings1 and 3,977 private rulings.
We received positive feedback on our responsiveness to the delivery of public advice and guidance on COVID-19 issues and the government’s economic response. Since late 2020, focus and resources have shifted from COVID-19 related priorities to progressing and delivering other priority public advice and guidance. The volume of formal advice and guidance products delivered this year was broadly consistent with previous years. The slight decline in number and timeliness of delivery of our public ruling products in part reflects our shifting priorities during COVID-19, and the large volume of timely and targeted practical advice published on ato.gov.au to support government economic initiatives and tax time.
We continue to:
- seek feedback throughout the development of public advice and guidance products, including through targeted consultation groups, to ensure our advice and guidance meets community needs
- seek to understand the impact of our advice and guidance products and consider if there are better ways to achieve the objectives for issuing that advice.
We continued our work to build and improve resources for primary and secondary school students about the purpose of the tax and superannuation systems and how the systems contribute to the wellbeing of all Australians. More than 20,000 users across 1,941 secondary schools are registered for our new Tax, Super + You website – to be released in 2021–22 – with 531 users across 365 schools registered on the Paying it forward website for primary schools.1 The number of public rulings differs to that reported in the 2020–21 ATO annual report due to a correction identified after the report was published. This will be noted as a correction in the 2021–22 ATO annual report.