Australian taxpayers who give up $300 billion a year to the government probably don’t regard the Australian Taxation Office as their personal friend, but the massive revenue collection agency says it wants to change that.

After decades of pushing people to part with their money using stiff warnings and the fear of an audit, the ATO now wants to switch from being an agency whose public image is painted in regulation and compliance to a friendly, fast and convenient service delivery centred organisation … one that will only come after you if you deliberately try to do the wrong thing.

It might sound like a too good to be true, but Tax’s Chief Information Officer Jane King is adamant that much more progress will be made in fair and efficient revenue collection if the agency stays out of the business of adding complexity to people’s daily lives.

“A lot of folks use tax agents for instance, because they think that’s a safety net, they don’t trust that we are not going to get back at them or if they get something wrong, we will attack the agent.” Ms King told the Technology in Government Summit in Canberra this week.

“What we had to do is generate trust in the community that we are not out to get people.

“We are actually out to help and support you to come through the system in a sensible way and make sure that you are able to comply with the obligations that you’ve got  – but we are not there to catch people, we are out to support people.”

Read more here.

This story first appeared in Government News.