3.1 Summary of methodology

To fulfil the objectives of the research, the approach summarised in Table 1 was undertaken. Further details about the methodology can be viewed in Appendix A: Technical Notes.

This report combines the findings from Stage 1, a general population survey of Australians aged 16 years or older, and Stage 2, a detailed investigation of the required non-lodger group.

Table 1: Outline of Research Approach
  Challenge Method Output
Project scoping and questionnaire development To establish a clear working approach to the research for all parties and effectively develop an effective data capture instrument. CBSR and IGT collectively draft CATI and online questionnaires
  • Draft questionnaires for Stages 1 and 2 data collection.

Stage 1: Data Collection

General Community Survey

To explore the general public's awareness and perceptions of the level of non-lodgement and its impact on their own lodgement behaviour.

To identify levels of lodgement and non-lodgement generally.

n=800 10 minute Computer Assisted Telephone Interviews (CATI) with members of the Australian public aged 16 years or older
  • A thorough understanding of the community's awareness and perceptions of the level of lodgement and its impact on their own lodgement behaviour.
  • Short Word report (approx. 10-15 pages) outlining the findings from stage 1 data collection.

Stage 2: Data Collection

Detailed investigation of the required non-lodger group

To provide a greater understanding of required non-lodgers. n=317 10 minute online interviews with required non-lodgers 16 years or older
  • An enhanced understanding of the difference between required lodgers who lodge and those who don't and the role that awareness and perceptions of non-lodgement plays in the decision to lodge.
  • Quantitative data available for analysis

3.2 Questionnaires

The CATI and online questionnaires were developed by CBSR in close collaboration with IGT -these can be seen in Appendix B and C. An iterative process was undertaken during which the questionnaires were refined from an initial state into a final instrument which was approved by IGT.

In Stage 1, the average CATI interview was 7 minutes and 30 seconds. Interviews ranged from 4 minutes 24 seconds to 11 minutes 22 seconds. Further call data statistics can be seen in Appendix A: Technical Notes.

The online questionnaire used in Stage 2 took approximately 10 minutes for respondents to complete.

3.3 Definitions

A number of terms have been used throughout this report. An explanation of these is shown below.

Table 2: Research definitions
Definition Description
Lodger A survey respondent who reported that they have lodged their tax return for the 2006/07 financial year regardless of whether they lodged before or after the cut-off date of 31st October 2007
Non-lodger A survey respondent who reported that they have not lodged their tax return for the 2006/07 financial year
Required lodger A survey respondent who was required to submit a tax return in the 2006/07 financial year (as defined by the ATO's online decision tool) and reported that they lodged. This group includes people who lodged before and after the cut-off date of 31st October 2007.
Required non-lodger A survey respondent who was required to submit a tax return in the 2006/07 financial year (as defined by the ATO's online decision tool) but reported that they failed to lodge.
Non-required lodger A survey respondent who was not required to submit a tax return in the 2006/07 financial year (as defined by the ATO's online decision tool) but who reported that they lodged one anyway. This group includes people who lodged before and after the cut-off date of 31st October 2007
Non-required non-lodger A survey respondent who was not required to submit a tax return in the 2006/07 financial year (as defined by the ATO's online decision tool) and who reported that they did not lodge.
General community Results pertaining to the 'general community surveyed' include the four groups above, i.e. required lodgers, required non-lodgers, non-required lodgers and non-required non-lodgers. 'General community' results reported throughout this document are obtained solely from the stage 1 data collection phase of this study.
Compliant community Results pertaining to all survey respondents except required non-lodgers
Table 3: Abbreviations used in this report
Definition Description
IGT Inspector General of Taxation
CBSR Colmar Brunton Social Research
ATO Australian Taxation Office
cf. The abbreviation for the Latin words coactus feci, meaning 'compared to'

3.4 Interpretation of the Results in this Report

3.4.1 Interpreting charts and tables

Where in the report it is stated that X% of the general community surveyed indicated 'Y', these results are based on Stage 1. Stage 1 involved a general community survey whereby all survey respondents satisfying the four different taxpayer segments participated. The 'general community' results relate to those shown in the 'Total %' columns of the tables throughout the report similar to that shown below. Where 'general community' is also mentioned in the commentary throughout the report, this also refers to the results of stage 1.

The results for 'required lodgers' (column a), 'non-required lodgers' (column b) and 'non-required non-lodgers' (column d) are all derived from the general community survey (stage 1). The results for 'required non-lodgers' are the combined results of the required non-lodgers surveyed in both stage 1 (general community survey) and stage 2 (the dedicated survey of required non-lodgers). The results in sections 4.1.1 through to 4.1.4 which describe the incidence of lodgement, non-lodgement and taxpayer segments in the general community, are however the results derived from stage 1 in isolation (the general community survey).

In tables throughout the report mean scores are provided for questions whereby a scaled response was used. For example, one of the questions asked 'On a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is extremely unlikely and 10 is extremely likely, how likely is it that you will lodge your tax return at the end of this coming financial year?'. If for example it is shown that the mean score for a taxpayer segment is 7.9, then this can be interpreted as the average score provided in response by survey respondents in that segment.

Table 4: Example table
  Total
%
a
Required lodgers
%
b
Non-required lodgers
%
c
Required non-lodgers
%
d
Non-required non-lodgers
%
Response option 1 12 1 19a 42ab 76abc
Response option 2 0 0 0 3a 1
Response option 3 2 1 3 8a 4
Response option 4 3 2 8a 6a 3
Response option 5 82 96bcd 69cd 36d 14
Response option 6 0 0 0 5 3
Total 100 100 100 100 100
Mean 8.2 9.8bcd 7.9cd 5.3d 2.7

3.4.2 Tests of Statistical Significance

In all tables in this report, groups (particularly required lodgers and required non-lodgers) are compared against each other and, where possible, differences are tested for statistical significance at the 95% confidence level.

In tables, where a result is bolded in red this indicates that this score is significantly higher than others. The subscript beside that score indicates which group the score is significantly higher than. For example a score of 28ab indicates that this score of 28% is significantly higher than the scores in column a and b.

Where statistical significances are not noted, there are none.

3.5 Determination of obligation to submit a tax return

In order to identify whether a respondent was required to submit a tax return in the 2006/07 financial year, survey respondents were asked a series of eligibility questions identical to that made available to the general community by the ATO on its website. This interactive 'decision tool' can be viewed at: http://calculators.ato.gov.au/scripts/axos/axos.asp?CONTEXT=&KBS=Lodge.XR4&go=ok11.

Survey respondents were not asked directly whether they thought they were required to submit a return in 2006/07 as it was hypothesised that not all people would be aware of whether they were required, and that some would be incorrect.

Due to restrictions on survey length, these eligibility questions were only able to be asked of each respondent with respect to the previous financial year (2006/07). Each respondent was asked whether they lodged a tax return in 2006/07 and the two previous financial years (2005/06 and 2004/05) however there is no way to identify whether a respondent was required to submit a return in the two preceding financial years. However, it is hypothesised that in a period of three financial years the majority of respondents are unlikely to have changed in terms of their eligibility status. This should be kept in mind when assessing the results of questions which ask about lodgement behaviour in preceding financial years, particularly:

Q1b. For what reasons did you not lodge your tax return in 2005/06?

Q1c. For what reasons did you not lodge your tax return in 2004/05?

Similar considerations should be made when assessing the results of questions which ask about potential lodgement behaviour in the coming financial year (2007/08), particularly:

Q3. For what reasons are you unlikely to lodge (in 2007/08)?

To ensure responses were not biased by the survey process, respondent's determined obligation to lodge a return for the 2006/07 financial year was not revealed to them.


11 Accessed 28 April 2008