MEMBER 9 writes:
"Re. the ATO shutdown. I informed my clients that if we lodged before Xmas they should get a refund before the shutdown. Not only did we not get the refund and consequently our fees, but the clients are absolutely going spare because they think we lied to them."
ATO COMMENT: Knowing that the systems upgrade was going to impact on our ability to process returns during January, we issued a broadcast to agents on 5 November 2009 recommending that taxpayers expecting a tax refund to lodge their income tax returns prior to Christmas 2009 to reduce the likelihood of any processing delays. At the time we stopped processing in January, we did have returns on hand and we continued to receive returns during January. We have now started processing income tax returns in the new system in smaller numbers with staff checking the outcomes. These numbers will gradually increase as we build up to our normal processing levels. At this stage we plan to clear the income tax returns backlog by the end of February. Once again we do apologise for any delays that taxpayers and agents have experienced during this time.
MEMBER 10 writes:
"I tried to ring the ATO but they were closed down over the Christmas break. Then, of course, they came back to work for about a week then the whole place pretty well came to a standstill due to portal upgrade/maintenance.
To the staff at the ATO who enjoyed their Christmas break only to come back and have another break - Merry double Christmas to you.
If I had a major upgrade I probably would have done it when everyone else was on their break so as not to inconvenience the majority of people."
ATO COMMENT: As we have stated in the past, we apologise for any inconvenience that the ATO systems upgrade has caused taxpayers and tax agents. We consciously chose the January quiet period for this initial deployment because it would have the least impact on the community. It is the best window of opportunity as most people and businesses have already lodged their return and only about 5% of lodgments occur at this time.