Nearly 90,000 more New Zealanders have had tax refunds so far this year compared to last year, resulting in almost $50 million more being refunded to taxpayers by Inland Revenue - thanks in large part to communications encouraging taxpayers to use online services.
Communications including video and social media advertising were run to get the message out to taxpayers to use online services to apply for refunds. The video cost just under $41,000.00 (to produce three versions) and the social media advertising, just over $17,000.00, said Inland Revenue Marketing and Communications Manager Andrew Stott.
"To date (at June 28) Inland Revenue has released 89,550 more refunds for 2015, equating to $49,077,610 more refunded, than for the same period in 2014," he said.
"And more people have applied online," he said. "This year we've processed nearly 104,000 more personal tax summaries (the basis for refund applications) than at the same time last year.
"We wanted our communications this year to get more people using our online services so we could deliver more refunds more efficiently, and have people get them sooner.
More applying online
"And it worked. Online requests for personal tax summaries this year increased by 41% in April and nearly 60% in May compared to the same months last year. Also in May, we had a 47% increase in people registering for their own personal profile page (myIR) on our website, than we did last May," he said.
"We run communications every year around this time in the tax year and this year they have cost some 10% less than last year, so we're looking at it as a very good return on the investment."
Mr Stott said the principal target audience for communications this year was 18-34 year olds, including part-time workers and those who have more than one job.
"That's because we know they more likely to be eligible for a refund and more likely to use the telephone to contact Inland Revenue about their refunds," he said. "So given the younger age profile, we used more online communications with what we thought was an engaging format."
"The online and video communications change over the three phases of the tax return process; that is, registering for myIR, requesting a personal tax summary, and confirming that summary.
Other elements of the campaign included adding web pages to the Inland Revenue website, direct communication by email, online advertising and market research.