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07 May 10 And on the Commissioner's message to tax agents and their clients

MEMBER 132 writes:

"I received an email message from the Commissioner at 5.47pm last night – presumably that message is going to be printed and stapled to every assessment notice and Statement of Account that has still not been sent out for returns lodged longer than 14 days ago - Correct?"


MEMBER 133 writes:

"It appears the Commissioner simply just doesn't get it!!! To read the open letter transmitted today by him one would think that the whole problem revolved around someone getting their shoes wet in a gentle Autumn afternoon shower and we're ever so sorry diddums. The fact of the matter was that many clients were seriously affected in a cash flow sense by not getting what is THEIR money back in a timely fashion from the ATO leading to making other sometimes costly arrangements to meet the shortfall.

To fob off enquiries by tax agents and the taxpayer that interest is being paid (incorrectly anyway as it turns out) is no answer - simply an evasion to not address the problem. This was further compounded by ATO timing promises which were not kept, countless unpaid cumulative hours by all tax agents pursuing outstanding assessments diverting precious time away from current work and the ATO pretending that there wasn't any problem anyway via its Press Releases. Again it's the dead hand of Treasury guiding the ATO rudder.

There is no concept of service delivery especially re the 14 days time extensions the ATO votes itself every time a tax agent calls up to log an enquiry. After the 14 days is up & the agent calls again - guess what? It's another 14 days my man to check why the first 14 days wasn't enough!!! Fawlty Towers has nothing on this mob. Given that many tax agents’ fees are paid by the client receiving their refund it doesn't take a genius to wonder what some of the high volume tax agents like ITP & H&R Block were using for cash flow over the 4 month debacle. There is simply no sense of commerciality to the ATO - like a child playing with a gun who shoots someone and can't understand why the adults are in such are a lather!!!!

I'll bet the Commissioner and ATO staff got paid every fortnight like clockwork - no problems there cobber me mate!! Yes I understand the system will probably be good for Australia in the long run but its implementation was appalling and the ducking and weaving and denying there was a problem was shameful - something I won’t forget in a hurry."


MEMBER 134 writes:

"I fear all our suffering due to the introduction of the ‘Change Program’ may have been in vain.

I phoned the ATO to check on progress of a delayed 2009 refund but had to repeat my tax agent number despite having keyed it in to get through in the first place. I had hoped the new system removed this old annoyance.

The person I spoke to had to put me on hold for "1 to 3 minutes" while she "looked at the systems, we have several" I understood the Change Program was going to do away with such inefficiencies and combine all the ATO systems.

Also, EFT reconciliation reports are being delayed, but the ATO apologises so that makes it OK.

Further, it is taking up to 8 days to receive paper assessments after refunds have been deposited to our trust account.

I don't think the gain has been worth the pain, in fact I can't see any gain."

MEMBER 131 , commenting that cynicism is alive and well, writes:

"I had cause to lodge a 2009 return recently for a new client. This new client's spouse has been a client for ages, however the wife (the new client) had never needed to lodge a return until 2009. I attempted to add the new client via the Portal, however it would appear that her TFN had been taken off the "system" because she had not lodged a return for quite a number of years. Rather than have the client apply to have her TFN reactivated I decided to just prepare and lodge the return, showing "yes" to change of address. Lo and behold the debit assessment issued within 7 days, including a warning for lodging late. Am I just an old cynic, wondering how long this return would have taken if it was a refund, it probably would have ended up in the "black hole" where all our outstanding returns reside. The ATO seem to be able to process debit assessments very quickly but refunds do tend to take a longer time."

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