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Statement of Expectations for the State Revenue Office

I am pleased to provide you with this Statement of Expectations (SOE) for the State Revenue Office (SRO). This SOE applies for the period 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2017, or until otherwise amended.

Improving the administration and enforcement of regulation

This SOE sets out my expectations of the SRO’s contribution to the Government’s Regulation Reform Program to reduce red tape and improve regulatory practices.

This SOE outlines key governance and performance objectives and targets aimed at promoting greater efficiency and effectiveness in the administration and enforcement of regulation and thus reducing its cost impact on businesses, not-for-profit organisations, government service providers and households. It is an extension of the previous SOE that was in place for the period 2014-15 and 2015-16.

As the Treasurer, I am responsible for administering the Duties Act 2000, Land Tax Act 2005, Payroll Tax Act 2007, Congestion Levy Act 2005, First Home Owner Grant Act 2000, Taxation Administration Act 1997, Back to Work Act 2015, Growth Areas Infrastructure Contribution, Metropolitan Planning Levy, and several other grants and subsidies that affect businesses and the broader Victorian Community. This SOE should be read within the context of the objectives, obligations and functions outlined in these Acts.

This new SOE replaces the 2014-2016 SOE previously published. 

Improvements and targets

Based on consultation between the Department of Treasury and Finance and the SRO, I have identified some key areas of governance and operational performance where there are opportunities for the SRO to make improvements that would reduce cost impacts on business. The SRO is expected to identify activities it will undertake to achieve the following performance improvements and targets: 

  • Establish an online duties refund application process which in the first twelve months achieves an uptake of 35% of submitted refund applications.
  • Introduce new online services that increase the amount of customers – including small business – who manage their instalments and payment arrangements online.
  • Increase the volume of land tax assessments issued electronically by 60%.
  • Improve public awareness and understanding of taxation administration and up-front compliance.

In developing actions to achieve these improvements and targets, the SRO is expected to consult with business and the broader community as appropriate.

Reporting

Reporting on your progress to achieve these SOE performance targets should be undertaken in the context of annual financial reporting to avoid dual reporting streams. As part of annual reporting, regulators are expected to report on:

  • Baseline levels for performance targets set in this SOE, and
  • Activities undertaken to reach the performance targets and improvements set out in this SOE

I also expect that these SOE performance targets will be incorporated into the SRO’s Corporate Plan, and this SOE should be published on the SRO’s website upon receipt.

I look forward to seeing the SRO continuously working towards achieving best practice in the administration and enforcement of regulation.

Yours sincerely

TIM PALLAS MP
Treasurer
19 July 2016


Statement of Expectations for the State Revenue Office - Action Plan

The Honourable Tim Pallas MP set out his Statement of Expectations (SOE) for the State Revenue Office (SRO) with respect to improving our administrative practices as part of the red tape reduction program.

The SRO administers Victoria's taxation legislation and collects a range of taxes, duties and levies. In 2015-16, we collected in excess of $15.8 billion in revenue for the Victorian Government.

It is our mission to provide customers with quality revenue management services that are fair, efficient and deliver benefits for all Victorians. The SRO is also committed to continually improving the administration and enforcement of the taxation legislation and thereby reducing its cost impact on business and the community. The SOE performance targets are consistent with our mission and commitment to all Victorians.

The SRO focuses on continually improving our customer experience, and as part of this there has been an emphasis on finding new and innovative ways to deliver services, with particular attention on digital service delivery.

The SRO is committed to achieving the targets set out in the SOE in the following manner:

Establish an online duties refund application process which in the first 12 months achieves an uptake of 35% of submitted refund applications

The SRO processes approximately 220,000 duties transactions annually and this number is expected to increase to over 240,000 in 2017.

The introduction of the Duties Online system in October 2011 is a good example of digital service delivery. This system is now the preferred method for completing duties transactions for commercial customers.

In 2015, the SRO’s digital service delivery was further expanded to include a Public Lodgement system that essentially provides the same online facility as Duties Online to individuals and small business customers who complete less frequent transactions.

Irrespective of whether a customer is commercial, small business, or an individual, an application for a refund of duty remains a manual process. At the moment, the applicant is required to mail a paper application form outlining why the refund is required and attach supporting documentation. Applicants are then notified of the outcome of their application by post and, if applicable, a cheque is posted to the applicant along with a notification letter.

By 30 June 2017, the SRO will be moving the duties refund application process to its online systems (Duties Online and public lodgements). These changes will enable online refund applications to be lodged by customers either in their own right, or on their behalf by their chosen representative. Where information relating to the transaction is known to the SRO, the refund application will be pre-populated.

Moving across to the online system will allow customers to track the progress of their application without making contact with the SRO, and the outcome of the refund application will be communicated electronically. An online system will also mean refunds can be paid directly into nominated bank accounts which will increase security and reduce remittance time frames.

The SRO will work with the industry to promote the benefits of the new system, and it is anticipated that 35% of refund applications will be lodged online within the first 12 months of implementation.

Introduce new online services that increase the amount of customers – including small business – who manage their instalments and payment arrangements online

Each year, the SRO sends out over 300,000 land tax assessments. Customers have the option of either paying these in full or in four equal instalments during the year. Approximately 30% of land tax customers choose instalments. Currently, land tax customers that need an extension of time to any of the four instalments are required to contact the SRO either by phone or completing a request form.

The SRO plans to provide customers with greater flexibility by replacing the fixed arrangement of four equal instalments with an online payment arrangement system where customers can choose the number of instalments they wish to pay in order to meet their annual liability. This new online service will have in-built intelligence to approve an application for instalment arrangements based on pre-programmed eligibility parameters and information provided by the customer. Where customers provide their mobile number, text message reminders will be sent confirming the payment arrangement, and before and after a direct debit. 

This will provide land tax customers with more flexibility and the convenience of self-managing their tax affairs online.

Increase the volume of land tax assessments issued electronically by 60%

In February 2016, the SRO registered as a biller for land tax assessments with BPAY View. Since then, all land tax customers are eligible to register to receive their future land tax assessments electronically via their online banking account. To be eligible, a customer must be registered with their bank for online banking.

BPAY View provides customers with the ability to view and print copies of the assessment. Customers can also be notified by their bank when an assessment is received.

While registration for BPAY View is voluntary and is initiated by the customer, it is a faster and more secure way of receiving land tax assessments. As the SRO’s preferred method for the delivery of assessment notices, targeted customer communications will promote this service highlighting the benefits to the customer for the 2017 land tax cycle. For this reason, the SRO anticipates that the volume of land tax assessments issued electronically will increase by 60% by 30 June 2017. 

Continue to monitor public awareness and understanding of key areas of taxation administration to identify areas of poor understanding among taxpayers and use a range of media to deliver timely, accurate and accessible information and advice to taxpayers

The SRO is committed to sharing expert tax knowledge through a wide range of educational initiatives to help customers better understand Victorian state taxes, duties and grants. We are continually striving to improve compliance-related assistance and advice by tailoring communication and customer education activities to meet the needs of tax professionals, businesses and the general public.

The website is our key communications channel to reach customers who increasingly prefer digital interaction. Relaunched in July 2015 with a new design, and a focus on customer needs, the site provides timely, up-to-date and authoritative information. In late 2016 the SRO will also relaunch the new Annual Review micro-site with enhanced features, and a more user-friendly structure.

By continually analysing customers’ most commonly asked questions, the SRO tailors information available on the website, enhances existing communication tools such as brochures and letters, and creates easy-to-understand online videos. ONDemand features a range of videos about commonly occurring state tax matters through to highly complex tax technical issues.

To further build customer education we offer a series of interactive webinars via SROLive. This assists customers’ understanding of their compliance obligations and provides them the opportunity to have questions answered in real time. We also offer presentations to professional groups that have a specific area of interest in state taxation matters.

In 2017 the SRO will launch a series of interactive guides to simplify customer decision making. An example of this would be developing a set of questions to assist first-home owners to determine if they are eligible for the First Home Owner Grant.

A free information service is also available to customers via the website allowing them to register to receive updates about state taxation changes, Revenue Rulings, publications and forms issued by the SRO. This year this service will be further enhanced moving across to an electronic newsletter, and expanded to include online system registrants.

The SRO embraces the use of behavioural economics to support our customers in fulfilling their obligations. We will work with the Victorian Behavioural Insights Unit, within the Department of Premier and Cabinet, to identify potential projects for 2017.

Reporting

In the 2015-16 Annual Review we will report on the current baseline levels for all the performance targets set in this SOE and the activities that will be undertaken to achieve these performance targets.

These activities have been incorporated in the SRO Business Plan 2016-17, and we will provide a further update in our 2016-17 Annual Review.

I look forward to continually working towards achieving best practice in the administration and enforcement of taxation administration.

Paul Broderick PSM
Commissioner of State Revenue

Statement of Expectations and Response 2014-16