As committed in the Strategic Plan 2020-2023, the Spanish Tax Agency has made progress in the simplification of the language used in the communications with taxpayers with the aim to eliminate barriers to understanding and minimize the indirect administrative burden to citizens, thus facilitating voluntary compliance. To this end, the Tax Agency has modified up to eight communication and notification templates used in its most common procedures. These revisions, which will be implemented gradually in the coming months, will reach more than 3.7 million documents per year. The templates modified include the Personal Income Tax assessments and requests of information, seizure notifications, Customs declarations of small consignments (mainly in online purchases), representation document and communication of taxpayers’ rights and guarantees.
A strategic objective
The Agency's Strategic Plan 2020-2023 established the commitment to advance in improving communications to taxpayers and facilitate the understanding of administrative language, making the text of the most common documents more understandable and simpler for taxpayers. This initiative adds onto the continuous development of the virtual assistance and other online assistance tools Tax Agency: Virtual assistance tools (agenciatributaria.gob.es) that understand and use the colloquial language to inform taxpayers on their tax liabilities.
Several elements have been combined to achieve the clarification of the language goal, namely:
- Shortening of communications’ length
- Reduction of the volume of information conveyed
- Highlight of the most relevant information, including a content summary at the beginning of the longest communications
- Redesign of layout and structure of the information
All this without leaving apart the required correctness of the legal concepts utilised.
Among the modifications carried out in the Tax Agency's document, the new content summary must be highlighted.
The first page of the revised communications and notifications will include from now on a new informative summary with the basic information of each document: what citizens are receiving, why they are receiving it, what they should do after receiving it and where they can get help and have their doubts solved.
The new content summary follows the same philosophy of clear and direct language that is already being used in the appointment application available on the Tax Agency's website, with a concise question and answer scheme and a design that facilitates an agile reading.
Redesign for an easier reading
The body of the documents and their annexes have also been revised and a new design with graphic elements has been introduced in order to highlight and separate the different sections. In addition, and a reading friendly font size is utilised. Likewise, the most complex sentences have been reviewed and made more concise and accessible. This has led to a length reduction in some communications while at the same time improving the clarity of the information conveyed.
Additional Personalized Assistance
On top of these improvements, it is planned that the recipient of the new documents has the possibility to obtaining direct and personalized assistance from the Tax Agency through the Integral Digital Administrations (ADIs).
With this ongoing project, the Tax Agency continues to advance in its strategy to facilitate tax compliance through an integral assistance model that can be customized to the needs of each citizen, so that it is the citizens who decide the channel through which they want or need to be assisted, be it either digital or in-person.