Plain Language Awards

Celebrate the stories of our clearest business communicators

Finalist: People’s Choice — Best Plain Language Communication 2022

Inland Revenue

Document name

Income Tax Assessment

Judges’ comments

Inland Revenue has done a great job in simplifying a subject that is often ignored or has intimidated readers. Not only is it informative, it is also educational. The plain language elements used support the reader’s financial literacy.

Tax assessment information is something ALL working people need to have access to, as well as understand! We commend Inland Revenue for this clear, simple, and conversational communication. Well done!

The judges included some more detailed comments too

The purpose is clear. It is clearly stated in a coloured box that this letter is the client’s income tax assessment, and that the client has paid too much tax. Following the titles, the opening two statements support the title, clearly stating that the client’s income assessment is complete and they have paid too much tax.

The content relates to the client’s refund and addresses their refund in detail. So, the content supports the purpose of the communication very well!

The structure logically takes the reader through the content. The headings break up the content and are informative, directing the reader where to find the information. Scanning the document, you get enough information to be able to understand what the document is about.

The document uses the active voice, which makes it very easy for the reader to know what the writer is doing and what the reader needs to do. The document has a logical flow.

The tone is very conversational and professional, active and friendly. The letter uses everyday simple language — not overly legal, financial or government-like.

Media statement

Inland Revenue always tries to use plain, everyday language to explain often complicated tax messages.

Most people don’t hear from us very often, so when they do it needs to be clear, easy to read and customer friendly.

In 2022 we took a special look at the letter we send out to millions of taxpayers letting them know whether they’ve paid too little, too much or just the right amount of tax. For many people this can be quite complex, and we wanted to make it as simple as possible.

We received customer compliments on the clarity and simplicity of the message, and we’re very pleased we hit the mark for taxpayers.

The result was a great team effort and a win for our customers.

Eloise MacLeod
Inland Revenue