• Listening to the community

    We welcome feedback from the community about our administration of the tax and superannuation systems. Complaints, compliments and survey results provide insights into community views and how we can improve our performance, as does our extensive network of consultative and advisory forums.

    Survey results

    Our survey results indicate we are performing well on our stated values and charter principles. In addition, the community's confidence in the administration of the tax system remains high.

    However, survey results reveal increasing dissatisfaction with us, especially by tax agents.

    Community perceptions survey

    Community perceptions of our administration of the tax system remained high in 2011 with 83% of the community agreeing with the statement 'overall the ATO is doing a good job'. This is the same result as in 2010, but a decline on 86% in 2009.

    The 2011 results also show that 81% of respondents thought our staff were really helpful and 76% agreed that we look for new ways of helping taxpayers. Both of these key measures were up on the previous year.

    TABLE 3.2: Community perceptions survey results, 2009 to 2011

     

    2009
    % agree

    2010
    % agree

    2011
    % agree

    Overall I think the ATO is doing a good job

    86

    83

    83

    The ATO acts with integrity

    88

    85

    86

    The ATO is fair and professional in how it administers the tax system

    80

    80

    80

    You think the ATO staff are really helpful

    85

    79

    81

    NOTE
    These results exclude 'Don't know' responses in order to focus on those expressing a definite opinion.

    Micro business perceptions survey

    In our June 2011 survey 80% of micro businesses agreed that overall the ATO is doing a good job and 80% viewed ATO staff as really helpful.

    Of the micro businesses surveyed 72% agreed the ATO looks for new ways of doing things to help businesses, while 83% agreed the ATO offers service and assistance to help businesses understand and meet their tax obligations.

    TABLE 3.3: Micro business perceptions survey results, 2011

     

    % agree

    Overall I think the ATO is doing a good job

    80

    The ATO acts with integrity

    83

    The ATO is fair and professional in how it administers the tax system

    80

    The ATO looks for new ways of doing things to help businesses

    72

    You think the ATO staff are really helpful

    80

    The ATO offers service and assistance to help businesses understand and meet their tax obligations

    83

    NOTES
    The micro business perceptions survey was conducted in 2010-11, replacing the business perceptions survey in tracking attitudes of the micro business audience towards the ATO. As the method of data collection changed from phone to online interviewing, and the target audience became narrower, time series comparison between the two surveys cannot be made.

    These results exclude 'Don't know' responses in order to focus on those expressing a definite opinion.

    Small and medium enterprises perceptions survey

    In our first small and medium enterprises (SMEs) perceptions survey, 81% of SMEs agreed the ATO is doing a good job and 83% thought ATO staff are really helpful. However, only 68% thought the ATO looks for new ways to help businesses.

    TABLE 3.4: Small and medium enterprise perceptions survey results, 2011

     

    % agree

    Overall I think the ATO is doing a good job

    81

    The ATO acts with integrity

    92

    The ATO is fair and professional in how it administers the tax system

    85

    The ATO looks for new ways of doing things to help businesses

    68

    I think the ATO staff are really helpful

    83

    The ATO offers service and assistance to businesses to understand their tax obligations

    85

    NOTE
    These results exclude 'Don't know' responses in order to focus on those expressing a definite opinion.

    ATO professionalism survey results

    In our May 2011 professionalism survey results we achieved an overall professionalism score of 3.95 out of 5.00 - lower than our November 2010 score of 4.03. This translates to 77% of people satisfied or very satisfied with the level of professionalism perceived when dealing with our staff.

    All nine characteristics of professionalism achieved well above the benchmark of 3.70. The 'respectful and courteous' characteristic achieved the highest score (4.24) and 'sufficient understanding of issues' and 'understood needs' achieved the lowest (3.87).

    TABLE 3.5: Characteristics of professionalism (total ATO), November 2009 to May 2011

    Characteristics of professionalism

    Nov 2009

    May 2010

    Nov 2010

    May 2011

    Willingness to explain rights

    4.09

    4.08

    4.07

    3.97

    Sufficient understanding of issues

    4.01

    4.00

    3.95

    3.87

    Understood needs

    4.02

    4.01

    3.97

    3.87

    Staff fair, reasonable and unbiased

    4.14

    4.15

    4.12

    4.04

    Communicated clearly

    4.12

    4.13

    4.10

    4.06

    Respectful and courteous

    4.32

    4.33

    4.32

    4.24

    Willingness to follow matter through to conclusion

    4.12

    4.07

    4.06

    3.94

    Assisted to best of ability and within the law

    4.12

    4.10

    4.10

    4.00

    Result fair and reasonable

    4.08

    4.08

    4.08

    3.98

    Tax agent perceptions survey

    The latest results indicate there has been a significant decline in the satisfaction levels of agents since our 2010 survey. While the results are disappointing, we remain positive about the health of our relationship with registered agents. We believe the dissatisfaction expressed by agents in this survey reflects their experiences associated with the implementation of new systems in 2010, and their perceptions of us not delivering enhanced tools in a timely manner. The results might also reflect difficulties some smaller practitioners have with the complexity of the law and increasing self lodgment through e-tax.

    We continue to work with tax practitioners and professional associations through our consultative forums and are confident that our ongoing engagement with them and a successful Tax Time 2011 will improve tax practitioner perceptions.

    TABLE 3.6: Tax agent perceptions survey results, 2010 to 2011

     

    2010
    % agree

    2011
    % agree

    Overall I think the ATO is doing a good job

    79

    50

    The ATO acts with integrity

    71

    50

    The ATO is fair and professional in how it administers the tax system

    66

    49

    The ATO's service has improved a lot over the last 12 months

    65

    33

    It is easier now to deal with the ATO online

    84

    63

    Business activity statement agent survey

    In March 2010, the Tax Agent Services Act 2009 introduced the requirement for business activity statement (BAS) agents to be registered. We conducted inaugural research with this new intermediary in November-December 2010. Overall, BAS agent survey results were fairly positive, with 74% agreeing that the ATO is doing a good job.

    TABLE 3.7: BAS agent survey results, 2010

     

    % agree

    Overall I think the ATO is doing a good job

    74

    The ATO is fair and professional in how it administers the tax system

    64

    The ATO's service has improved a lot over the last 12 months

    56

    The ATO applies the tax law with certainty and consistency

    51

    Call centre satisfaction survey

    In 2010-11 we met or exceeded the expectations of 80% of respondents on their most recent phone experience with us. However, perceptions of our performance declined on some aspects of our service, and next year we will be focusing on first contact resolution.

    TABLE 3.8: Call centre satisfaction survey results, 2009-10 to 2010-11

     

    August 2009-
    June 2010
    % met or exceeded expectation

    July 2010-
    June 2011
    % met or exceeded expectation

    Most recent experience telephoning the ATO overall

    80

    80

    Overall quality of service provided by the ATO staff member handling the query

    90

    87

    Overall quality of information provided by the ATO staff member handling the query

    85

    82

    Service representative's knowledge about the issues relating to the query

    83

    80

    Accuracy of information provided

    81

    78

    Query resolved on the first call

    84

    77

    NOTE
    This survey began on a monthly basis from August 2009. Due to the extent and severity of natural disasters we did not conduct a survey in January 2011.

    Feedback

    During 2010-11 we received 47,704 complaints, 293 formal compliments and 3,337 other items of feedback. In 2010-11, 62% of all complaints resolved were upheld and a further 4% partially upheld.

    From March to November 2010 we received unprecedented levels of complaints, mainly about delayed refund processing.

    In 2010-11 we made a concerted effort to improve our management of complaints. As a result of this and improvements in tax returns processing, complaints on hand reduced from 4,501 at 30 June 2010 to 962 at 30 June 2011.

    In March 2011 we met the benchmarks for both 'complaints' service standards for the first time since September 2008 and we maintained this to the end of 2010-11.

    The number and age profile of complaints on hand has substantially reduced. The proportion of aged cases (complaints over 60 days old) relative to all complaints on hand was less than 3% in June 2011. This compares to 14% in June 2009 and 18% in June 2010. The average time taken to resolve a complaint has improved from 33 days in the first half of 2010-11 to 26 days in the second half.

    TABLE 3.9: Complaints, 2009-10 to 2010-11

     

    2009-10
    No.

    2010-11
    No.

    Change
    %

    Received

    40,403

    47,704

    +18

    Finalised

    37,395

    51,127

    +37

    On hand at 30 June

    4,501

    962

    -79

    Aged complaints at 30 June

    800

    27

    -97

    NOTE
    This does not include Ombudsman investigations.

    The three most common reasons for lodging a complaint in 2010-11 were:

    • processing - an income tax return or amendment had not been fully processed within service standard (37%)
    • refund delays linked to system changes (19%)
    • phone access - in particular the length of wait times (14%).

    A successful Tax Time 2011 should restore confidence and repair relationships with taxpayers and agents who had a less positive experience with us during 2010-11.

    We are also reviewing our complaints and compliments handling processes, including consideration of best practice from Australian and overseas organisations. We will consider potential improvements in conjunction with the recommendations arising from our review of service standards.

    A key focus for us next year will be to enhance the way we use complaints to help us drive business improvement and provide better service to taxpayers and their agents.

    Designing information technology solutions

    Where possible, through our simulation centre, we actively involve the community in the design, development and testing of our electronic products, systems and services.

    During the year we engaged taxpayers and tax agents in the testing and evaluation of the property interactive internet tool that will assist users to correctly treat property related transactions for GST purposes.

    The centre also takes into account the special needs of taxpayers - in particular those with disabilities (such as the vision impaired) who use adaptive technology software and routinely assist us in testing our products for accessibility. During the year we tested the AUSkey website to make website navigation easier for people with varying degrees of disability.

    We share our facility and resources with other government agencies. In 2010-11 the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Centrelink, Medicare and Australian Electoral Commission used the simulation centre for their testing and evaluation activities.

      Last modified: 31 Oct 2011QC 28036