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Australian Taxation Office

Understanding the tax time online user experience

Important dates

Opportunity ID
Deadline for asking questions
Thursday 3 May 2018 at 6PM (in Canberra)
Closing date for applications
Thursday 10 May 2018 at 6PM (in Canberra)
Thursday 26 April 2018


Write a summary of your brief

The Australian Taxation Office is seeking a research provider to assist us in understanding the online journey individuals take when they prepare and lodge their tax return.

What is the latest start date?
How long is the contract?

until 30 June 2018 with a three month extension.

Where can the work take place?
Who will the specialist work for?
Australian Taxation Office
Budget range

The budget for this project is $150,000 (excluding GST). We have identified under research requirements the topics in order of priority. We would like the research specialist to provide us with a breakdown of the topics that can be covered with this budget. If all of the topics cannot be covered we would like a separate quote with the cost to undertake the remainder of the topics.

As well as responding to the ATO’s requirements outlined in this brief, tenderers are welcome to suggest methodological changes or enhancements to better meet the outcomes of the project or reduce costs. Any enhancements should be costed separately.

About the work

Why is the work being done?

As communication experts we need to gain a better understanding of the irritants and engage a research specialist to inform us of:

- the individual taxpayer’s natural ecosystem to inform delivery of a better website experience

- the information and tools the individual taxpayer needs from to confidently lodge their tax return

- the online journey users take to prepare and lodge their return

- how individuals want information presented to them

- a content structure that will help users understand how the content applies to their personal situation.

- the expectations of future state (like personalisation from the ATO).

The Taxpayer pulse survey shows 75% of taxpayers are confident they have the information they need to lodge their returns.

But, we know they are getting it wrong. For example:

- In 2014, 20% of taxpayers believed it was okay to overstate deductions and 10% admit to claiming deductions for costs they had not incurred.

- In 2015, 3.8% of taxpayers declared their income incorrectly, resulting in a $250.9m loss.

- In 2016 approx. 2 million taxpayers reported rental income of $40.1b and claimed $43.6b in rental deductions, resulting in a total rental loss of $3.5b.

Tax time communications will focus on providing practical guidance to help taxpayers get it right when they are preparing and lodging their tax return. This includes communication on the following key risk focus areas where we know taxpayers are getting it wrong:

- work-related expenses

- rentals

- omitted income

- capital gains tax

- gifts and donations.

The ATO is reinventing itself to become a contemporary and service-oriented organisation with a focus on improving client and staff experience for and other engagement channels. Our website is seen as a primary channel to deliver services to customers and as such, there have been a number of incremental improvements on the site, with the last big refresh in 2015. The site was migrated to a cloud service in December 2016, resulting in improved availability and faster speed to market for changes to content, tools and services.

Whilst content on is written to meet user needs, given the varying needs and expectations of a wide range of users and the complexity of much of the subject matter this can sometimes be difficult to achieve. The website can be too complex for individuals who access the site infrequently and too simplified for tax professionals who are looking for complex legal information. All tax time communication activities direct our audiences to our website to find out more information. By understanding the individual’s experience online, we will increase the effectiveness of our communication activities and help taxpayers get it right.

What's the key problem you need to solve?

Through exploratory research we would like to understand the online experience individuals take to prepare and lodge their tax return.

We have identified the following topics that we would like the research specialist to focus on, based on our knowledge of key areas that people are at risk of getting it wrong. Listed below are the topics in order of priority that we would like the research company to test with users:


- rentals

- work related expenses

- gifts and donations

- omitted income

- preparing and lodging an income tax return


- record keeping

- income contingent loans


- capital gains tax

- myDeductions

For each topic we would like to provide the participants with a series of questions/ specific problems to solve and understand how they find that information. We would like to map the pathway that they take to find this information and identify times where they get lost or simply can’t find it. We are interested in identifying the times where they find the right section on, however the information does not cover what they need to know, or is too complex to understand. We would like to gain an understanding of how confident the participant is in getting the information correct and whether they ultimately find the right answer.

Describe the users and their needs

It is anticipated qualitative exploratory research would be conducted. However, we are open to suggestions to maximise the effectiveness of the project. All methodological suggestions must be supported with rationale on why the approach will achieve the best outcomes for the ATO. We will be guided on the appropriate methodology by the successful research specialist.

The target audience segmentation for this research should include:

- Individuals (self-preparers and agent clients)

- Individuals who claim work-related expenses

- First-time lodgers

- Tax agents

- Rental property owners

New to the rental market

o Own one or more rental property

o Co-own rental property(s)

o Own one or more holiday home(s)

o Rent out part of their primary residence (sharing economy, eg Airbnb)

What work has already been done?

The Journey Mapping research conducted in 2017 identified pain points and communication opportunities along tax time journey maps. The pain points can be found in the journey mapping research at Attachment B.

It created personas to help ensure the information we provide our audiences is tailored and personalised in line with their needs and expectations. Key insights from this research that are driving our tax time communication strategy are that taxpayers:

1. have an overwhelming expectation for a personalised experience – they expect us to use the data we have on them to know what applies to them.

2. want us to be a part of their lives – when someone moves into a new stage of life circumstance they want easy tax information to help them know what it means and what they have to do.

3. want to hear from us more – they feel an absence of proactivity from us and their agents. They don’t want surprises at tax time and they want us to tell them when things are changing. They have an awareness of items that feature in the media but do not know how it applies to them and would like to hear from us when it does.

4. want an easy solution to record keeping – there is a strong desire for a record keeping app, but low awareness of myDeductions. myDeductions is a free record keeping tool within the ATO app that can be used to:

o capture and classify work-related expenses, gifts and donations or the cost of managing tax affairs

o store photographs of receipts

o record car trips.

5. expect a better user experience on the website – there is an expectation that our website is the single source of truth, however users feel it loops around in ambiguity and should be more tailored and personalised.

Insight 5 is supported by the research finding that nearly all participants have a lack of confidence in their ability to understand tax law as it applies to them. They:

- are frustrated by the complexity of tax language and jargon, ambiguity of explanations, the quantity of copy on the website and variations in deductions by profession

- find it difficult to obtain clarity from the ATO website and often turn to a human expert for confirmation of facts

- go around in circles on the ATO website, lacking confidence in their interpretation of the information presented

In 2017, the ATO engaged a market research company to review the existing CMS platform, including reviewing and making recommendations on client experience, a new best fit CMS platform and governance. A series of workshops were conducted and results indicated that Individuals and Small Businesses want a straightforward and simple experience, whereas tax professionals need complex information and a dedicated experience.

Who will the work be done with?

Marketing and Communications team, ATO

Any additional relevant information?

Tax time is a yearly income tax lodgment event that occurs from 1 July to 31 October.

In the tax time context, taxpayers are:

- individuals who are self-preparers or tax agents’ clients who are required to complete an income tax return, or

- small businesses who are self-preparers or tax agent clients that are sole traders, partnerships, trusts or companies.

Approximately 13.5 million taxpayers lodge income tax returns each year. Of those, approximately 74% lodge with a tax agent, and the remaining 26% self-prepare with myTax (individuals and sole traders). Very few self-preparers still lodge on paper (approximately 250,000).

For most taxpayers, lodging a tax return each year is their only interaction with the ATO, and represents our primary opportunity to influence an individual’s behaviour.

There are approximately 25,000 active tax agents in Australia. Tax agents have a critical role in influencing behaviour, providing expert advice to help their clients meet their obligations and understand their entitlements. We respect the choice taxpayers have to use either the services of a tax professional or self-prepare, and we support the agent-client relationship with our communications.

In previous years the tax time communication strategy’s main objective has been to increase online lodgment and has focused on the traditional tax time period of July – October.

Tax Time 2017 was the first tax time where the focus shifted from the promotion of online lodgment to helping taxpayers get it right Particularly when it comes to key risk areas and new measures. This approach has been well received by taxpayers and the excellent results support this focus going forward.

For Tax Time 2018, communications will continue to focus on helping taxpayers get it right, but will move to a year-round approach which is aligned to audience needs. The aim will be to ensure taxpayers are aware of their tax time obligations and the range of information, tools and services available to help them, regardless of their lodgment channel choice.

What phase is the work in?

Work setup

Where will the work take place?

Australian Taxation Office, 21 Genge Street, Canberra

What are the working arrangements?

The vendor will work with ATO to establish a delivery timeline, and appropriate working arrangements to deliver project outcomes including:

- working from the ATO National Office (Canberra);

- capacity to remotely attend some meetings;

- working collaboratively with ATO staff to jointly deliver project outcomes;

- providing weekly status reports;

- providing mentoring and guidance to ATO staff

Is security clearance required?


Additional information

Additional terms and conditions


The Contractor (and its Personnel) must not access Commonwealth information classified at a level higher than the Security Classification identified without the ATO’s written permission.

Before accessing Commonwealth information classified above ‘Unclassified’, or having unsupervised access to ATO premises, the Contractor (or its Personnel) must:

• provide a confidentiality undertaking and secrecy declaration in a form satisfactory to the ATO,

• produce such documents as the ATO may require to verify their identity,

• undergo an ATO character assessment, including signing a consent for the ATO to obtain a

police records check to confirm a satisfactory convictions history, and

• if they do not hold an Australian passport – provide a consent to enable the ATO to verify their right to work in Australia.

Before accessing Commonwealth information classified ‘Protected’ or higher, the Contractor (or its Personnel) must also undergo a formal security assessment and a clear result must be obtained.


If this Contract requires the Contractor to store or handle Commonwealth information classified at a level above "unclassified':

• the Contractor’s premises and facilities, and

• if the Contractor is required to store or handle that information electronically – its information technology and telecommunications systems, must, when doing so, meet Commonwealth information security standards corresponding to that level. The Agency will provide details of those standards (if it has not already done so) on the Contractor’s request.

The Contractor must ensure that no such Commonwealth information, no Contract Material, and none of the Agency’s Confidential Information, is transferred or stored, or provided to (or accessed by) a person, outside Australia without the Agency’s prior written consent.

Skills and experience

Buyers will use the essential and nice-to-have skills and experience to help them evaluate sellers’ technical competence.

Essential skills and experience
  • use third parties, media and other creative approaches to reach students and teachers in their daily lives, outside of their direct participation in the school system.
  • engage students and teachers with the creative element of the competition and encourage participation from the creative development, as well as the tax and super, perspective.
Nice-to-have skills and experience

How sellers will be evaluated

How many shortlisted sellers will you evaluate?
Proposal criteria
  • Demonstrated understanding of the project requirements and familiarity with subject matter
  • Credibility of the proposed research method
  • Proven experience in carrying out discovery research
  • Relevant/related experience of the team who will work on the project
  • Demonstrated ability to deliver on time and within budget.
Cultural fit criteria
Relevant/related experience of the team who will work on the project
Payment approach
Fixed price
Assessment methods
  • Written proposal
  • Work history
  • Reference
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence

Cultural fit


Seller questions

Seller questions
Seller question Buyer answer
1. I'm not sure the two essential criteria relate to this project, as I saw no mention of schools or competition in the core of the request. Could you confirm please that these are essential: - use third parties, media and other creative approaches to reach students and teachers in their daily lives, outside of their direct participation in the school system. - engage students and teachers with the creative element of the competition and encourage participation from the creative development, as well as the tax and super, perspective. Thank you for your question. After publishing this brief in the Marketplace, additional information was sent to the selected suppliers via email. This will have more information about the requirements of this opportunity.
2. I agree with the first seller's question, there seems to be a disconnect between the brief described and the essential skills and experience required by the seller to participate. The essential skills and experience is focused on students and teachers and there is mention of a creative competition, whereas the brief including the printed materials sent, identifies target audiences on page 6 under Methodology that are completely different and is focused on user journeys, content structure and presentation of the ATO site. Could you please clarify the essential skills and experience questions for this RFQ on the Apply now page. Please disregard the Essential Skills and Experience issued in the original opportunity. ____ Essential Skills and Experience 1. demonstrated understanding of the project requirements and familiarity with subject matter 2. credibility of the proposed research method 3. proven experience in carrying out discovery research 4. relevant/related experience of the team who will work on the project 5. demonstrated ability to deliver on time and within budget.
3. Based on the dates provided, is the preference for the research to be completed within a 4 week timeframe, with possibility to extend? We would like the research completed and final report delivered by 30 June 2018.
4. How much of the 2018 Comm strategy communications have been created? Have any been published / launched and in what mediums (TVCs, banners, emails)? The 2018 communication strategy has begun and the following communication activities have been delivered: - Media - Email - Social media Please refer to our social media pages Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to view our posts. You can find copies of our media releases in our media centre. No TV advertising will take place.
5. Are there any specific internal deadlines for development of the website, App and/or Communications to be considered when sequencing activities as part of the recommended approach? The research will be undertaken and complete by June 2018. We will look for critical fixes and quick wins to implement ASAP, and we expect further iterative improvements to be implemented over the next 12 months.
6. If the ATO were to weight (%) of the focus of this engagement, how much focus should be on the following: 1. Record keeping behaviours (%) 2. Preparing to lodge behaviours (%) 3. Online lodging experience (%) 4. Expectations of the ATO (%) 5. Communications from the ATO (%) 6. Future state concepts/ ideas (%). We are unable to provide you with percentages, however tax time will focus on providing practical guidance to help taxpayers get it right. Key risk focus areas are: -work-related expenses: increase awareness/understanding of what can/cannot be claimed -rentals: increase awareness/understanding about rental income/expenses -omitted income: encourage people to wait until pre-fill is available, reduce level of non-reporting of income, increase awareness/understanding of what is considered income -capital gains tax: increase awareness/understanding of capital gains events and the tax treatment of gains/losses -gifts and donations: increase awareness/understanding of when a deduction can/cannot be claimed.
7. Back to the skills and experience information. On the response form there are only 2 response boxes (based on the old criteria). As there are now 5 criteria, is it possible to provide 5 x 150 word response boxes please to respond to below criteria: Demonstrated understanding of the project requirements and familiarity with subject matter Credibility of the proposed research method Proven experience in carrying out discovery research Relevant/related experience of the team who will work on the project Demonstrated ability to deliver on time and within budget. Yes, thank you.
8. In terms of response, we can provide the 150 word responses to the 5 essential criteria. But for speed of assessment, do you also want us to provide a costing and detailed approach? If so, we could send this separately by email. Yes, please provide your responses to each of the essential criteria. Costing and a detailed approach will be accepted.
9. I noticed the terms of Work Set up for this engagement were limited to working from Canberra. Is this mandatory? The Marketing and Communications team is located in Canberra, this is team you would be reporting to should you be successful with your proposal. There is no set location for the preferred supplier to be located.

Only invited sellers can apply for an 'Open to one' or 'Open to selected' opportunity.

Learn more about Open to selected opportunities.

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