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MEMBER 6 writes, in response to Member 1's comments in last week's TAXVINE (see 2009 TAXVINE No 30 (31 July 2009)):

"Well said, Member 1.

Experienced tax practitioners working in commerce, other than those in the largest corporations with a key client manager, are left to battle it out with the ATO bureaucracy on our own. When we call the ATO Business Helpline, we are routinely on hold for ½ hour or more, often cut off and have to redial; when we finally get through, the people we speak to know less than we do, and a polite request to speak to a supervisor or the relevant Centre of Expertise is met by "you'll have to apply for a private ruling".

The "Large Business Phone Service" appears limited to administrative matters, no use when seeking clarification on a technical issue.

The professional bodies have done an excellent job at getting priority access for tax agents and tax staff of very large corporations - perhaps they can now go into bat for the rest of us in commerce. I understand the criteria for large corporations being allocated a key client manager is turnover - no use to me, the company I work for is in the ASX200 and rapidly expanding its business, but while we’re spending lots we don’t have the turnover to match. Perhaps having a Taxation Institute member in a tax specialist role should be sufficient - corporations only bring on in-house tax staff when the quantity and complexity of tax issues warrant it, which is also the stage that we need direct access to someone in the ATO that we can have a sensible conversation with."

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