Compliance and monitoring approaches are streamlined and coordinated
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.
Minimise frequency and impact of requests for information and
Tailor information requests and only make when necessary, and only then in a way that minimises compliance costs to taxpayers.
Utilise existing information to limit the reliance on requests to taxpayers and share the information among other regulators, where possible.
Base monitoring and inspection approaches on risk and, where possible, take into account the circumstances and operational needs of 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 streamline and coordinate compliance and monitoring approaches.
Performance either improved or met target for four of the seven metrics for this KPI, with three based on activities.
There has been a further increase in the use of the Australian Business Register (ABR) by government agencies and the community. There has also been an increase of the proportion of data items pre-filled for individual tax returns.
Improving the client experience
We continued our Better as Usual program, which focuses on improving the end-to-end client experience, recognising that a single person may interact with us at different stages in a process, or in different roles. In its second year, the program drove continuous, systemic and sustained improvements to our internal processes, enhancing both the client and staff experience.
- We finalised reviews of over 50 ATO activities with the highest client impact, and incorporated safeguards into processes to prevent unintended consequences for clients. We also set up enduring review mechanisms to maintain oversight, especially when processes change, or new processes are developed.
Through increased engagement and reporting, our Complex Issues and Cases Program brought additional visibility and objectivity to our most complex and contentious cases, ensuring a holistic and tailored approach to resolving issues for those cases that don’t fit neatly within standard processes. We continued to drive system enhancements, to improve outcomes for our staff and clients, increasing our visibility of the impacts of our action across all our interactions with clients. Having piloted our review approach, in 2021–22, we will focus on establishing an Enterprise Performance Improvement Centre to drive further improvements to our business processes.
Modernising registry services
The ATO is the lead delivery agency for the Modernising Business Registers program which will progressively bring together more than 30 ASIC registers and combine them with the Australian Business Register on a new single platform. These modernised registry services will be provided through the Australian Business Registry Services (ABRS). The ABRS supports streamlined business registry interactions and maintains trusted registry data used to unlock social and economic value for the Australian community. Our focus for 2020–21 was to commence establishing the ABRS, including the creation of a brand and identity to reflect our service promise and the scope of the new service. We also continued to design the optimised services to be offered by the ABRS through collaboration with our key stakeholders.
- The new director identification number (director ID) system was deployed to private beta in March 2021; the first major deliverable on the newly established ABRS platform. The first director ID was successfully issued on 20 April 2021 as part of business verification testing, allowing private beta testing of the online director ID services to commence.
- We removed close to 150,000 inactive and ineligible ABNs. The cancellation of ABNs was balanced with providing support for businesses impacted by COVID-19 and the need to ensure the integrity and accuracy of the business population on the ABR. The ABR also supported the integrity of JobKeeper and Cash Flow Boost through the requirement for entities to have an ABN.
- We increased the use of ABRS data as a national dataset, with 407 government agencies now using ABR Explorer (target was 400 agencies) and 29 government agencies using ABR Connect (target of 16 agencies). In the community, there were 1.8 billion ABN look up searches (up 20% from last year) against a target of 1.5 billion searches.
The 2020–21 savings estimated by reducing administrative costs for government due to the introduction and use of the ABR are $2.1 billion, an increase of 7.7% on the previous savings of $1.95 billion. The result indicates that the ABR program initiatives continue to deliver savings to business and government through reducing the reporting burden, minimising cost to businesses and enhancing business interactions through natural-based systems.
Improvements to Single Touch Payroll
We delivered Single Touch Payroll (STP) enhancements in 2021, with 782,000 employers reporting through STP, covering 12.7 million employees.
- strengthening STP data sharing with Services Australia to support more efficient administration of the social security system
- deploying a whole-of-government solution for agencies to automatically exchange data, resulting in improved client services.
STP Phase 2 reporting becomes mandatory from 1 January 2022 when the service will be expanded to include additional payroll information from employers. This expansion will reduce the reporting burden for employers who need to report employee information to multiple government agencies. It will also make it easier for people to claim their entitlements.
Use of data and analytics
Data and analytics integration enable us to engage early with clients to help them get things right from the start and to identify those who are not doing the right thing. In 2020–21, we used our data and analytics technology to pre-fill over 85 million pieces of data, including information relating to COVID-19 support measures for employees. We also:
- issued 97% of JobKeeper payments within four days with the help of online eligibility checks
- made over 160 data exchanges with federal and state government agencies to support their response to COVID-19
- validated over 100 data files to help financial institutions consider refinancing loan applications from small businesses as part of the COVID-19 Banking – Bridging Finance JobKeeper Enrolment Data Matching legislated work program
- prevented over 240,000 ineligible entities from receiving cash flow boost credits using our system-based checks
- provided over 360,000 real-time prompts to taxpayers to check amounts in their 2019–20 income tax returns, resulting in an estimated $41 million revenue protected, as well as saving those taxpayers from subsequent compliance action and the risk of penalties
- sent over 140,000 nudge messages to clients to consider the tax consequences of their cryptocurrency sales
- implemented system improvements and enhanced automation that led to faster processing of refunds and notices of assessment and contributed to a decrease in interest paid on overpayments. The amount of interest paid on overpayments was $61.5 million in 2020–21, compared to $121 million in the previous year.
Cross-government data sharing
We take an active role in data sharing across all levels of government. For example, we provided data on Single Touch Payroll and stimulus measures to the Department of Treasury and the Australian Bureau of Statistics to provide broader insights into the economic impacts of COVID-19. We also provided data to Services Australia enabling them to deliver services to the community and ensure appropriate access to COVID-19 related financial assistance.
We are collecting more data than ever before, and understand the Australian community continues to be concerned about how large organisations use, manage, draw insights from and share their data. To help maintain community trust and confidence, in June 2021 we published six ATO data ethics principles. These principles will guide how we conduct data and analytics activities and share data with other agencies. The data ethics principles are included in the ‘Safe, secure and inclusive’ mandatory training for staff, which is refreshed annually.