Thursday, February 19, 2009

ATO launches credit card payment trial

The ATO has begun a two month trial of allowing the use of credit cards to make payments of all tax liabilities (up to $10,000 in value) via the government easypay site.

Details of the trial are on the ATO website.

When looking at egovernment, supporting credit cards payments is one of the few ways in which the government can directly support online payments within its own websites. BPAY and other similar online financial transactions are generally facilitated through a bank's website as a direct transfer from a citizen's account.

I'm encouraged that this trial has begun as it supports the case for other agencies to use the same approach for payments of fees and dues to governments - other than purchases of goods and services.

Over in New Zealand it is already possible to pay child support via credit card.

Increasingly credit cards are seen as being a viable payment alternative for government with less of the social stigma initially attached to supporting a high interest cost financial tool. The introduction of debit credit cards has helped this along and I'd expect to see the growth in their use continue.

The use of credit cards has been on the radar for a long time. Searching the Tax Office website, the Ledlin report, conducted in 2003, recommended the consideration of credit card payments,

‘We recommend consideration be given to a survey of Taxpayers on possible use of Credit Cards to pay tax. It is our belief that Credit Card payment would be embraced by many Taxpayers – it also has the added advantage of the ATO being paid in a prompt manner and the taxpayer then having the option of paying a financial institution over a period of time (which is the function of a financial institution and not the ATO).’

ATO response: agreed in principle.

I reckon the ATO has picked a good time to begin its trial.


  1. what does this mean for ATO compliance against PCI standards given that they may now be storing ccard details? Given the recent data losses, can we really feel confident about the ATO protecting our card information??

  2. Hi,

    The system being used by ATO is owned and operated by the Reserve Bank and to my understanding does not store credit card details.

    I appreciate that some people have concerns over using credit cards online, or have difficulty trusting government to protect peoples' privacy, however in general Australian governments have a very good track record in this regard compared to other governments or the corporate sector.

    At the end of the day it's a personal decision - if you choose to use another payment method these remain available. There's also no push to encourage people to use one means over another.

    This is simply a broadening of the options available to reflect how society now prefers to make payments.