Australia's Future Tax System

Final Report: Detailed Analysis

Chapter G: Institutions, governance and administration

G4. Client experience of the tax and transfer system

Key points

People's interactions with the tax and transfer system tend to be complex and fragmented.

A 21st century tax and transfer system should allow individuals to engage with it in ways that meet their needs and preferences — a citizen-centric design. It should help people make informed decisions that are in their best interests. It should be transparent and trusted in its operation, and aligned with the 'natural systems' of individuals and businesses (the things they do anyway).

While improvements to individuals' experiences of the present system have been pursued by delivery agencies, policy and program complexity has continued to increase, such that the system remains confusing, costly and risky for people. Tax and transfer administrative and technology systems do not have unlimited capacity to absorb this complexity while maintaining a simple interface for citizens.

Significant improvements in client experience require a new approach to policy design that gives far greater weight to the experience of the system by users. This goal has underpinned many of the recommendations of this Review. If achieved, it will be possible to employ modern technologies far more effectively to deliver programs and enhance client experience and outcomes.

Greater use of technology, improved coordination and management of information, plus better design and integration of processes will enable more automation of reporting. It will also empower clients to better understand and engage with the system through online, up-to-date access to their own tax and transfer accounts.

Current government strategies such as the Standard Business Reporting Program will improve businesses' experience of the system, including through reducing compliance costs. Such strategies have the potential to generate further improvements in the business experience of the system and bigger compliance cost reductions if extended to cover further business interactions with other government regulators.

A high-level taskforce should be established to progress, oversee and regularly report on a whole-of-system reform of the policy, administrative arrangements and technologies that deliver the client experience of the tax and transfer system.