• People who own investment properties with a land value around $500,000 or more need to pay land tax

  • A significant number of people don’t pay their land tax on time

There are some landowners who are repeatedly late with their land tax. In 2015, 11 per cent of the people who owed land tax did not pay on time having also been late with their land tax payment in 2014.

We worked with the NSW Office of State Revenue to see if behavioural insight techniques could increase the number of landowners paying all or some of their land tax on time.

Designing new reminders

We designed three reminders – a text message, letter and email. These were sent out two weeks before the land tax payments were due.

We conducted a randomised controlled trial to test the effectiveness of these reminders. People were split into three groups:

  • one group received the reminder letter

  • another was sent the letter, an email and a text message

  • the third group received no reminders

Testing the effectiveness of the reminders

The trial found no evidence that the reminders - whether by letter, email or text - improved the on-time payment of land taxes. However, the trial uncovered that landowners who had more contact information registered with the government were more likely to pay some or all of their land taxes on time, regardless of whether they received a reminder.

This project demonstrates the importance of testing interventions before large-scale implementation, as interventions that work for some groups of people do not necessarily work for everyone. Even if an intervention has proven effective in a trial, it should continue to be tested and monitored as it is being scaled up.