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27 Feb 09 On unacceptable refund timeframes

MEMBER 3 writes, in a similar vein:

I am unsure of what other members experience is, but I have had a number of occasions where clients tax returns have been amended and the amendments result in a refund to the taxpayer, that the time that it takes for the client to receive a refund is just unacceptable.

The latest case that I have the ATO amended my client’s 2006 income tax return due to an investigation into my client not having the appropriate private health insurance. After writing to the ATO and providing appropriate evidence that the taxpayer did in fact have private health insurance, they still amended the taxpayer’s 2006 return to include an amount for the Medicare Levy Surcharge. Two months later we received a letter from the ATO advising that because of the evidence provided by us that the original assessment was in fact correct. In the mean time we lodged the client’s 2008 return because of a large refund due and naturally the ATO withheld the amount for the amended assessment, which we knew would happen.

After receiving the letter confirming that the original assessment was correct I contacted the ATO to see about reversing the amended 2006 return. Lucky I did this because no one at the ATO was going to do it without prompting. I then phoned back in two weeks time to see how it was progressing, only to be told that I needed to wait the usual 28 days for it to be processed.

After checking the portal after 28 days had passed and could see that no action had occurred I phoned the ATO once again to now be informed that we will now escalate it, because I phoned, and that I need to check again in another 14 days. The reason for the further delay is apparently the person who actioned the original letter stating your original return was correct never bothered to reverse the amended 2006 assessment. So having spoken to two different people at the ATO within the past 28 days neither of them realised that the refund wasn’t going to happen and the standard response is we need to wait the 28 days and then we will look at it, but only if you follow it up with a phone call.

Having had difficulties before with getting refunds out of the ATO due to amended assessments I had advised the client right from the start that even though I had been told the refund will come through in 28 days don’t hold your breath it’ll probably take 3 months and guess what, I am probably pretty close."

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