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17 Apr 09 On the inability to change financial account details on the Portal

MEMBER 1 writes:

"Can anyone explain the logic behind the procedures for adding financial account details via the ATO Portal? The ATO have advised that we can add such details if they relate to an Activity Statement Account but not in relation to an Income Tax Account. In the latter case you can ring and update the details by phone. Why can't we do such an update directly by the Portal? It is particularly frustrating when the Portal instructions do not advise of these restrictions – they are written as though you can update all accounts. Then after trying to update such details, you can't! Another 10 minutes is wasted, even before you ring for help from the ATO."

TAXVINE COMMENT: The Taxation Institute's Tax Counsel, Michael Payne-Mulcahy, has provide the following explanation:

"Thank you, Member 1, for taking the time to alert us to your concerns about the procedures for adding financial account details via the Portal.

There is a bit of history behind this problem. Soon after the Portal was launched, the ATO allowed a facility to alter and add financial account details. Unfortunately, because of a fraud perpetrated by a tax agent who accessed another agent's Portal, changed the financial account details on the Income Tax Account and syphoned off clients' refunds, the ATO was forced as a security measure to bar access to financial account information on line. This is why there is still a sensitivity around allowing access to financial account details on the Income Tax Account, although we believe the ATO is looking at ways to improve security around this information. We understand when a similar thing happened on the UK's equivalent to our Portal, their whole Portal facility was closed down for some time, not just access to the information addition and amendment facilities.

We will raise your concerns with the ATO. Regardless of the bigger policy issue at work in this problem, your comments about the inadequacy of the Portal instructions are also important because this is something the ATO can easily rectify."

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