State Revenue continued to focus on providing customers with easier access to services through the expansion of its Online Services Portal in 2018-19.
Access to First Home Owner Grant Unique Identification Number Look-up
The First Home Owner Grant (FHOG) is a one-off payment to assist eligible first home buyers to purchase a new home for use as their principal place of residence.
Finance recognises its important role in assisting first home buyers through an often stressful period and, as a result, expanded its FHOG web-based tool in July 2018. The facility assists both applicants and their agents (for example, conveyancers or mortgage brokers) to check on the status of a FHOG application via the Online Services Portal.
The tool, which has seen a high uptake level with nearly 38,000 FHOG status checks since July 2018, offers increased convenience for customers who can access application information as and when it suits them. The use of technology to enable customer self-service has led to reduced costs in administering these processes, while empowering staff to focus on improved service delivery outcomes.
Land Tax services
Land tax is an annual tax on land and is a source of general revenue for government. As a key revenue stream, it assists in the funding of critical services to the community such as education, health, law and order, and critical infrastructure.
Finance has worked hard to improve the experience and efficiency of tax obligations on community and businesses alike. In the last year, Finance has enhanced its online services portal to include digital facilities that enable customers to more easily fulfil their land tax responsibilities, alleviating the burden of manual paper-based processes and reducing the overheads associated with supporting analogue channels. Customers are now able to self-serve by:
- viewing their account summary, land holdings and valuations;
- accessing past and present-day assessment notices; and
- conducting a range of other online transactions including payment extensions, refunds and enquiries.
The system is still in its infancy and has already registered more than 1,500 users at the end of the financial year.
Fully-automated payment arrangements
Finance has created an online solution for customers to apply for payment plans for land tax, payroll tax, duties and first home owner grant debts.
The facility offers increased convenience for customers who can now apply online for a tax payment arrangement and receive a decision in real time. This removes delays previously associated with customers submitting written applications to State Revenue for manual processing. It also provides a common method of requesting and administering payment plans across various revenue lines.
Since its launch, the system has processed nearly 3,200 payment arrangements valued at around $109 million in managed debt. Importantly, this feature can help ease financial pressure on families and businesses by giving them increased flexibility to meet their State tax obligations.
Expansion of payment methods and refunds
Electronic payment methods were expanded in July 2018 to include Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT), BPAY and credit card across various revenue lines, and electronic refunds were introduced for all revenue lines.
Previously, some payments were restricted to non-electronic methods (cash or cheque) or only had limited electronic methods available (credit card, BPAY, direct debit). As at the end of June 2019, around 90 per cent of all payments for the 2018-19 financial year were made electronically, offering improved customer convenience and significantly reducing costs associated with processing non-electronic payments.
All refunds were previously paid by cheque only. So far, nearly 75 per cent of refund applications made through the Online Services Portal have been paid by EFT, improving the timely access to funds for customers.