The Australian Tax Office is to shortly invest heavily in a range of new online, phone, credit card and phone payment services for its customers.
The initiative will see the ATO sign three separate contracts lasting up to six years each for over-the-counter bill payment services, telephone and internet bill payment services, and credit card payment services.
Currently over-the0counter bill payment services are provided by Australia Post, and telephone and internet bill payment services are provided by the Commonwealth Bank. Credit card services are provided by the Reserve Bank of Australia.
According to an ATO spokesperson, the timing and decision to go source the services from the market, rather than offer them directly, had “nothing at all” to do with the agency’s Change Program challenges.
“The current contracts are due to expire,” the spokesperson said. “The ATO wants to provide the community with various payment options, including ease of access where payments can be made in person.”
Australia Post has provided its services since 1991, while the Commonwealth Bank has provided its services since 2000. The Reserve Bank has provided credit card services since 2009.
According to the ATO, the volume of transactions through telephone and internet payment channels have grown over the last five years as a result of the take up of the BPAY service by the community, and an ATO strategy in promoting electronic payment channels.
In the 2007/2008 financial year some 7.5 million telephone and internet transactions had been received. In 2008/09 this figure was 8.5 million and in 2009/10 it was 9.4 million.
A trial for credit card payment services, launched in February 2009 had also shown increasing demand from taxpayers. For the month of February 2009 some 314 transactions were recorded. By June 2010 this figure had grown to 5802 and 85,572 for the 16 month period.
In late August the ATO claimed success in finalising 3.8 million tax returns in the eight weeks since the end of the 2009/2010 financial year, with $9 billion issued in total.
In late July the agency said it was turning to iPhones, iPads and Androids to help teach disinterested school kids about tax and superannuation.