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In 2014 TAXVINE No 26 (25 July 2014), Member 99 recounted their experience with Portal generated payment references which, due to an apparent ATO error, prevented payment. In last week's TAXVINE - 2014 TAXVINE No 27 (1 August 2014) - the ATO responded by insisting that the number was correct and that any problem must have arisen because the Member (and their client, who experienced the same problem) entered the Portal generated payment reference incorrectly. Member 99 now responds to the ATO's response: 

"Dear ATO

In 2014 TAXVINE No 26 (25 July 2014), I reported (as Member 99) a problem with the Portal generating payment references that were rejected by your own systems. Your very helpful response in 2014 TAXVINE No 27 (1August 2014) essentially told me that both I and my client cannot read a payment reference and that your system is accurate. Thanks for that, I feel much better now and I hope the person who prepared the ATO’s response slept well, knowing that the ATO’s systems are perfect and that it’s the rest of us who are incompetent and incapable of simple tasks, like transcribing and double-checking a payment reference before making a payment and before chasing up why it was not receipted.

I reiterate that the client did not use, copy or in any other way submit an incorrect payment reference. This was checked and confirmed in several different ways before I contacted the ATO about the issue. The payment reference was the one that the Portal generated and it was the only reference that the Portal generated. The same reference was shown for all payment options, i.e. BPay, Direct Credit and EFT code. 

Here is some more information to help you rectify this error. 

Firstly, it was the ATO’s own staff member who told me that this is a known issue, the issue being that the Portal 'still sometimes generates references ending in 75' which the ATO’s system cannot recognise. It was also the ATO’s own staff member who referred to the 'black hole' to which such payments go, before they can be identified and allocated. 

I have just checked another company’s income tax account (ending in '/00551'). Sure enough, the payment reference generated by the Portal for this company also ends in 75. Luckily that client does not have to make a payment to its income tax account in the foreseeable future. Here is what the ATO’s Portal generated reference looks like for the two different companies: TFN00014xx75. The reference provided by the ATO for BPay, Direct Credit and the EFT code are identical. The reference that the ATO staff member provided to me to use in future is completely different: 55100TFN0721. The ATO staff member told me that this is the only payment reference that the ATO system will automatically recognise for the client’s income tax account. No matter how many times I go into the payment options area of the Portal, the Portal refuses to give me this reference. It insists on providing the reference ending in 75. 

I hope this is now clear and that you can rectify the problem. Please don’t reply again with your 'our system is perfect, you haven’t used the correct number that our system correctly provided to you'. Even your standard 'we will look into it' response is better than that."