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The Commissioner has published his latest online update on the ATO website, entitled "Charter on course". In it, he comments on the results of research conducted by TNS Social Research (TNS). The Commissioner notes:

"While our verbal communication is rated favourably, our written communication is letting us down, particularly our letters. One participant said ‘if you only deal with the Tax Office through the mail then you probably won’t know how good they are’. We are currently reviewing many of our letters. This includes making sure messages are clear and are conveyed in the right tone. For the longer term, we are looking at our whole approach to how we communicate in writing with taxpayers and their agents.

Another area of concern was that people did not think we are very accountable. Participants think that seeing an issue through to a resolution is an important part of accountability. We need to better meet people's expectations that we will go the extra step to help them resolve any issues.

While we are seen to provide clear information and advice on procedural matters, we received some criticism about how we deal with more complex queries. Tax agents, in particular, would like us to provide more interpretative comment when they call rather than ‘read from a script’. Where we are unable to do so, they would like us to have a better process for escalating their queries."

To access the online update, go here

For a PDF copy of the TNS report, go here

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