Tax Filing & enabling infrastructure
Part of consumer compliance is about ‘enablement’. Businesses that don’t get the importance of an enabling infrastructure are those left wondering why consumers aren't ‘biting’. If you track consumption decision making, you’ll see the act of buying is hastened if the required conveniences are in place. In fact, this is one arena where e-commerce companies score over their ‘brick and mortar’ counterparts. Keeping other factors at par, the convenience e-commerce provides is quite the ‘enabler’ to buying. For the consumer, it’s simply an act of a few clicks. Imagine that! Now compare straining your fingertips to brick and mortar buying, and you’ll see the hassles are far too many when it comes to the latter. You've got to make the list, navigate traffic, drive to the store, find parking, pay for it, wade through the store to get to your stuff, pack your trolley, bill it at a queued counter, haul it back to your vehicle, drive back home, and so on. The hassles are endless.
This scenario is similar to mandatory compliances too. Many times citizens hold back on compliance not because they don’t want to, it’s because they are unable to, given the poor 'enablement' infrastructure. Take tax payments for example. Most citizens procrastinate on paying taxes like property tax only because of the hassles that accompany its payment. I was reminded of this speaking to a colleague of mine the other day, who was mentioning how difficult it was to get to his panchayat office to pay property tax. In addition to the access problem, the fact that officials at the panchayat office only spoke the local language made it extremely difficult for my colleague to get his tax work done. Of course, come local governments have made attempts to tap electronic platforms to aid citizens in tax payments, yet problems still remain.
Income tax payment possibly is one arena, especially for the salaried classes, where tax payment and filing has almost become a ‘one click’ act. With the tax payment being done at the employer level, citizens are focused on the filing part. This is where it’s gotten real simple and easy for them. Today, not only can you have income tax e-filing done, you can even do it free of charge. E-commerce portals like H&R Block lead the way in enabling citizens to file their taxes sans any hassles, and for free! Such an 'enablement' to paying taxes goes a long way in speeding up the actual act of tax payments while ensuring government coffers swell.
It is important for marketers and even the government to realise that to get consumer patronage and citizen compliance they have to go beyond just putting products and mandatory requirements in place, but also work towards building enabling infrastructure that can hasten the act of buying and paying respectively.