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19 Sep 13 More on ATO inefficiencies

MEMBER 210 provides a series of comments:

"(1) We recently took over the accounting and taxation affairs of a lady whose tax affairs were dormant for some time. We lodged a Client Update (CU) form only to have it rejected. After lengthy delays on the phone to the ATO, we were told that the TFN was dormant and we had to reactivate it first. Which we did, and then we waited and waited. After a few weeks of no communication from the ATO, we call them again to ask them if the TFN has been activated.

ATO: 'Yes we activated that a few weeks ago'.

Us: 'Why didn’t you let us know?'

ATO: 'We don’t send letters out for reactivations'.

Your work ethic and communication skills need some improvement ATO.

(2) For the first time in years, we had a client that had an amount in Box E on the their Payment Summary. Box E is for amounts paid this year that apply to prior years. We read all of the relevant instructions, told the ATO there were attachments, attached all of the requested information and lodged the return. As you may have figured out, the ATO completely ignored the attachments and failed to give our client any of the tax offset he should have received. After long phone calls to the ATO their response beggars belief.

ATO: 'You didn’t put his Taxable Income for the June 2012 year in the attachment for us to work out the offset'.

So they did NOTHING. No phone call requesting this information, no work ethic on the part of the ATO to look this amount up themselves. Just no offset.

I really need to get serious about lodging maladministration claims.

(3) I too have noticed the ATO jumping the gun and amending assessments even though the time period has not lapsed. We received a please explain letter for one of our client’s deductions. We attached all of the receipts and sent them to the ATO. The ATO then amended the return without explanation. Here is an extract from the email from my staff member to bring me up to date on the matter:

'Time to hit TAXVINE...

Called the ATO and the woman there said there are no details of the audit and why the return has been amended because the effective date it will be implemented is <date in the future> and until then she can’t say why they did it.  She said our response to their original letter is currently being taken into consideration but also couldn’t say what effect that will have.

When I asked why they went ahead and amended the return and applied SIC before the window of response closed AND before they’d considered our response she said she didn’t know but if our application is successful then they should reverse those charges at a later date. She said the best thing to do would be to call back at a later date.'

What a great system. Guilty until proven innocent.

(4) The lack of work ethic in the ATO continues to astound me. We are working with a liquidator to have a company wound up and the liquidator is waiting for ATO clearance. Today I receive an email saying that the ATO won’t issue clearance until the Payment Summaries for 2003 and 2004 are lodged. Are you serious?? Where are the systems and processes to chase this up before today?? Where are we going to find this information now??

(5) I received a copy of a letter from the ATO today called 'Delay in the Processing of your 2013 income tax return'.

It reads in part: 'The table below shows the information provided in your 2013 income tax return that may require further verification.' And the table is blank.

I really think the ATO should be made to issue the refund immediately as in accordance with their letter, there is nothing further for them to verify.

Does anyone at the ATO actually read their own letters before they are sent??"