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21 Aug 09 The drag on our economy

MEMBER 13 writes:

"Why is the ATO such a drag on our economy?

They make doing simple business something like driving a car with the handbrake on.

Most businesses need to start by getting an ABN. Why does it take circa 14 days to get an ABN issued? This prevents business from commencing smoothly (or taking over from previous business). Some banks won't open a bank account without an ABN, others won't issue cheque books. How can customers pay the new business with no bank account, and how do we pay the employees' wages in the first weeks? (No wonder the tax-free cash economy is thriving.) To make matters worse, the ATO operatives proudly state that their service standard for issue of ABNs is 28 days. They think that 14 days is a good result, but they've merely been fooled by their own propaganda.

When we do all the work by crawling through their clumsy web-based application form, the issue of an ABN should be possible within 28 minutes, not 28 days. It should take about as long to issue an ABN as it takes any bank to issue a new account number. A simple while-you-wait service, with usual proof-of-identity issues covered simply and swiftly.

So, having lodged an ABN application, I realise that it's necessary to phone the ATO and chase up the application, but firstly I'm told they won't talk to me until the application is at least 1 week old. Wait another day.

This morning, I tried phoning the ATO at 8.30 am EST (trying to get in early and beat the usual phone queues), the recorded message says that I've called outside business hours. Call Centre hours are 8.00 am to 6.00 pm. But its already 8.30 am. Oh dear, the continuously achieved levels of incompetence are astounding.

I've now been on the phone to ATO for 30 minutes, and been passed around 4 different operatives. (Names withheld to protect the innocent.) Now I am waiting for callback, and still hoping for an ABN.

I type this short note while being kept on hold, waiting. Now back to real work."

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