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The ATO responds to Member 281's comments in 2013 TAXVINE No 49 (20 December 2013) - about difficulties with making a payment arrangement after the ATO had referred the matter to a debt collection agency:

"The ATO uses several external collection agencies to assist with the collection of debt. Once a case has been referred to an external collection agency, it is not possible to use the payment arrangement self-help services in relation to the relevant debt.

If a taxpayer attempts to use the telephony self-help service the call will be automatically re-directed to an ATO officer to determine the most appropriate action and to complete proof of identity checks where required. If appropriate, the ATO officer will initiate a personal handover to the relevant external collection agency in which case no further proof of identity checks are required. The external collection agencies do have access to a dedicated ATO support line to confirm liabilities and clarify lodgment details.

The ATO acknowledges that in this instance the correct process was not followed. We thank Member 281 for providing feedback through TAXVINE as we continually aim to provide a seamless interaction for clients, working in conjunction with the External Collection Agencies and the community. The ATO has been in contact with Member 281 to discuss this case."