ato logo
Search Suggestion:

Individuals Stewardship Group key messages 10 November 2021

Information about the key topics discussed at the Individuals Stewardship Group meeting on 10 November 2021.

Last updated 17 February 2022

Opening comments

In her opening remarks, the Chair Hoa Wood noted the release of the ATO’s annual report 2020–21 which indicates the tax gap for the individual segment is trending downwards from 6.1% for 2016–17 to 5.6% for 2018–19. She also noted that Tax Time 2021 closed 31 October with very good client engagement. Just in time messaging was used to address common mistakes and ensure clients had the records to support their deduction claims.

Environmental scan

Members shared insights into what they were seeing in their environment.

  • Australian Shareholders Association – Cryptocurrency, exchange traded funds and non-fungible tokens are currently attracting significant media attention and are volatile type investments.
  • Financial Counselling Australia – We are seeing more people with ATO debts, and more small businesses unable to meet their tax obligations. They are finding it more difficult to get through to appropriate ATO staff for assistance. The ATO noted it is looking at how to best support clients and their representatives to get the help they need.
  • Adult Multicultural Education Services Australia – We have worked closely with Tax Help to deliver assistance to Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) groups. The Tax Help service has been extended for an extra month to allow for late lodgments.
  • Real Estate Institute of Australia – There are large increases in listings and a significant backlog in the construction industry due to COVID-19. This means that activity will be strong for next 18 months.
  • Tax clinics are seeing an increasing level of domestic violence being experienced by clients with ATO correspondence or interactions often contributing and asked whether the ATO could adjust its communication to vulnerable clients. The ATO noted that it is considering more appropriate engagement with vulnerable clients through a review of debt and lodgment letters and is using feedback from vulnerable clients to improve their client experience and has since reached out to discuss this further.

ATO’s Client Engagement Group

Jeremy Hirschhorn introduced himself and provided an explanation of his role within the ATO and some of his key focus areas. He is responsible for seven market segments that include individuals, small business and large clients.

One of his focus areas is to ensure it is easy for taxpayers to engage with the tax system. He noted that generally Australian’s recognised the value tax provides in funding society and we want to work with them and provide them with accurate data to help them pay their tax.

He spoke about the ATO’s tax gaps which are the gaps between the amount of tax the ATO collects and the amounts we would collect if every taxpayer was fully compliant. The tax gap indicates the tax system is very healthy and supports transparency by ensuring all sectors are being held to account.

CALD audiences

The ATO’s Diverse Audiences Communications team provided an overview of the team’s work in designing communications for CALD audiences and sought feedback on how it can improve its communications. There is no one size fits all communication strategy for interacting with CALD audiences, so the ATO tries to consider each audience carefully and identify the best way to communicate with them.

The tax and super basics advertising campaign introduced new and emerging CALD communities to the ATO and aimed to reach people at the point they may be starting work or their own business. The campaign used radio, digital channels, and social media, in 12 languages to promote a range of topics focusing on supporting and encouraging good tax behaviour, so the audience feels confident they are on the right track with their tax and super responsibilities. The campaign won an award at the 2021 NSW Premier’s Multicultural Communications Awards.

A bespoke tax time strategy was delivered this year via a mix of communication channels. A three-part strategy was used to avoid overwhelming clients:

  • It’s time to get ready.
  • It’s time to lodge.
  • It’s not too late.

This approach had positive results with a 24% increase in downloads of our in-language materials on compared to the previous year.

The ATO in-language podcast is a new audio channel to connect with CALD audiences, with monthly episodes released in Arabic, Mandarin, Vietnamese and Korean. Podcasts are available on Spotify, Stitcher, Apple Podcasts and; the next two will focus on small business essentials.

Clients experiencing vulnerability

The ATO provided an update on its work around supporting vulnerable clients. The ATO is looking at a new debt and lodgment model which is better tailored for the needs of clients experiencing vulnerability and provided an overview of the work taking place to understand how vulnerability has changed and areas for improvements for the ATO and government.

Community consultation has resulted in a number of issues being raised including an increase in clients experiencing vulnerability in the community, the ATO not taking individual circumstances, and a lack of positive client engagement.

To help address these issues the ATO is focusing on making engaging with the ATO and government less confronting, removing triggers for negative experiences, and identifying system improvements that will support our clients.

In the medium-term the ATO is also looking to establish the ATO’s position in government and industry forums dealing with vulnerability.


Attendees list




Hoa Wood (Chair), Individuals and Intermediaries


Beth Strods, Individuals and Intermediaries


Lloyd Williams, Individuals and Intermediaries


Trevor Schloss, Superannuation and Employer Obligations


Tim Loh, Individuals and Intermediaries

AMES Australia

Teresita Romero

Australian Securities and Investment Commission

Danny McCarthy

Australian Shareholders Association Limited

Eden Zanatta

Financial Counselling Australia

Carmel Franklin

First Nations Foundation

Phil Usher

National Seniors Australia

Craig Sullivan

Real Estate Institute of Australia

Jock Kreitals

Tax Clinic

Connie Vitale


Bede Fraser

Guest attendees

Guest attendees list




Erin Glen, ATO Corporate


Jane Sansom, Lodge and Pay


Jeremy Hirschhorn, ATO Executive


Rebecca Bodel, Enterprise Strategy and Design


Apologies list




Kerry O'Loghlin, Individuals and Intermediaries

Federation of Ethnic Communities' Council of Australia

Janecke Wille

People with Disability Australia

Samantha French