26 Mar 10 On inane ATO correspondence

MEMBER 64 writes:

"Thank you for the Member Feedback section each week, it certainly restores an element of sanity to know that we are not alone in our frustration in dealing with Planet ATO.

I felt the need to contribute my experience this week in receiving the latest instalment of genius ATO correspondence. On 12 February we lodged via ELS a 2009 individual tax return for a very conscientious 78 year old client who had a lodgment due date of 31 March 2010. The ATO processed his refund via EFT on 4 March 2010.

On 5 March 2010 the ATO wrote to the client at his home address to remind him to send his information to his tax agent to enable us to lodge by 31 March. On return from holidays he sent me the letter with a note to ask what on earth we were doing at our end as he had signed his return weeks ago. When I rang the ATO, after being asked for my tax agent number which I had already keyed in, they firstly said they had no visibility of the letter on their system. They then said that he had received the letter in error probably as a result of the system "upgrade" and that the letter should have been sent to us. No, I patiently explained, the letter was quite clearly intended for the client. The helpful lady then explained that this is one way in which they help us by reminding the taxpayer of his obligations. Awesome help indeed. No matter how many different ways I tried to explain it, she was genuinely unable to comprehend why I was so annoyed that they write directly to the client for income tax matters.

No luck on my point of first annoyance, so no great surprise then that there was no explanation she could provide as to why the letter was issued 3 weeks after the return was lodged and after they had paid him the refund. My 15 minutes well and truly wasted, I thought it would be unwise to continue the conversation to enquire as to when we might expect to receive the assessment notice."
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