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Testing the effect of financial education on business taxpayers
Last registered on February 26, 2018

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Testing the effect of financial education on business taxpayers
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0002698
Initial registration date
February 25, 2018
Last updated
February 26, 2018 11:24 AM EST
Location(s)
Region
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
Australian National University
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
Australian National University
Additional Trial Information
Status
On going
Start date
2017-11-01
End date
2018-12-31
Secondary IDs
Abstract
This trial is part of a collaborative project of the Australian National University and the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). The aim of the trial is to study the effect of providing information about unsustainable tax debt levels and the availability of financial help tools to small businesses with an outstanding tax debt during outbound phone calls. The analysis will be based on 6,345 small businesses that received outbound calls from 87 ATO officers. About half of the businesses were randomly assigned to the treatment group. The remaining businesses received 'business as usual' calls and constitute the control group. Outcome measures include variables indicating payment behavior, the establishment of payment arrangements and the take-up of various financial help tools.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Dong, Sarah and Mathias Sinning. 2018. "Testing the effect of financial education on business taxpayers." AEA RCT Registry. February 26. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.2698-1.0.
Former Citation
Dong, Sarah and Mathias Sinning. 2018. "Testing the effect of financial education on business taxpayers." AEA RCT Registry. February 26. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/2698/history/26084.
Sponsors & Partners

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Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
The target population consists of two groups of businesses with an outstanding tax debt. The first group (“Pilot 1”) includes small and medium businesses with a new tax debt of between $6,000 and $10,000. The second group (“Pilot 2”) includes small, medium and micro businesses that have had one or more payment plan defaults and have an outstanding tax debt of between $10,000 and $20,000.

For Pilot 1, the control group receives outbound calls from the ATO that involve ’business as usual’ conversations designed for businesses that have very recent debts. These conversations are referred to as “Purposeful First Action” by the ATO. The treatment group receives outbound calls from the ATO that involve “Purposeful First Action” conversations, which provide additional information about unsustainable debt levels and financial help tools.

For Pilot 2, the control group receives outbound calls from the ATO that involve ’business as usual’ conversations designed for businesses that have recent or aged defaults. These conversations are referred to as “Recent and Aged Default Campaign” by the ATO. The treatment group receives outbound calls from the ATO that involve “Recent and Aged Default Campaign” conversations, which provide additional information about unsustainable debt levels and financial help tools.

A staff survey was conducted after the intervention to obtain information about staff characteristics and about how staff experienced the phone conversations.
Intervention Start Date
2017-11-13
Intervention End Date
2017-12-13
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Key outcome variables include a variable indicating whether or not a call was answered, a variable indicating whether or not payment in full took place as a result of the phone conversation, a variable indicating whether or not a payment arrangement was implemented during the phone conversation and variables indicating the take-up of various financial help tools.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
The trial is based on random assignment of ATO officers to treatment and control group as well as random assignment of small businesses to ATO officers. ATO officers in the treatment group provide additional information to small businesses during outbound phone calls. ATO officers in the control group conduct 'business as usual' calls. About half of the 6,345 businesses were assigned to the treatment group; the remaining businesses were assigned to the control group.

Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
The assignment of staff to treatment and control group was based on their location in the ATO office. Staff working on one floor of a call centre building were assigned to the treatment group (44 officers); staff working on a different floor of the same building were assigned to the control group (43 officers). A post-trial staff survey was conducted to control for differences in staff characteristics between the treatment group and the control group. Businesses were randomly assigned to ATO staff by an automated dialler system. As part of Pilot 1, 881 businesses were assigned to staff on the treatment floor, and 882 businesses were assigned to staff on the control floor. As part of Pilot 2, 2,290 businesses were assigned to staff on the treatment floor, and 2,292 businesses were assigned to the control floor.
Randomization Unit
Randomization was based on random assignment of officers to treatment and control group as well as random assignment of small businesses to officers.
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
87 staff.
Sample size: planned number of observations
For Pilot 1 (newer debtors with a debt between $6,000 and $10,000), 881 businesses were assigned to receive a call from a staff on the treatment floor, and 882 businesses were assigned to receive a call from a staff on the control floor. For Pilot 2 (defaulters with a debt between $10,000 and $20,000), 2290 businesses were assigned to receive a call from a staff on the treatment floor, and 2292 businesses were assigned to receive a call from a staff on the control floor.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
44 staff in the treatment group, 43 staff in the control group.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
Australian National University Humanities & Social Sciences Delegated Ethics Review Committee
IRB Approval Date
2018-02-14
IRB Approval Number
2018/057
Analysis Plan

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Post-Trial
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Intervention
Is the intervention completed?
No
Is data collection complete?
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
No
Program Files
Program Files
Reports and Papers
Preliminary Reports
Relevant Papers