MEMBER 100 writes:
“I refer to Member 95’s comments – see TAXVINE Issue 22 10 June 2011 – and would like to add my experience.
On completing returns from 2005 to 2010 for a client, there was a small HELP debt to be paid. To obtain the discount, I offered to ring the ATO and get a payout figure. Not so easy .... I too needed a reference number from a document issued in the past five years. I advised the ATO staff that no returns had been lodged since the 2004 return, and no such reference existed. I was stonewalled and not given the payout figure. On advising that this was pathetic, as the required reference number proves nothing other than that I hold a piece of correspondence from the ATO, that I could have got out of the client’s bin, I was advised that the system was requested by Tax Agents. Yes folks, we requested it!! I advised that I was not asked, nor were my colleagues, and neither was Member 95 it seems!!!"
MEMBER 101 writes:
“The new ATO POI is useless and an obstruction to us as tax agents doing business and in following up queries with the ATO.
Only recently I lodged 5 years’ tax returns for a client, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010.
Today I received a notice of assessment for the two years of 2009 and 2010 together with a statement of account/income tax account. This latter document clearly indicates that the 3 older years of 2006, 2007 and 2008 have been assessed.
I wasted 40 minutes on the phone with a person in Victoria, he refused to offer any assistance in this matter as I was required to advise him of all of the reference numbers in the assessment notices. This is just useless and a waste of time, I had already punched in my tax agent number, told the phone officer the client’s name, address and date of birth. Quite obviously the information supplied was unacceptable to the ATO.
I now am in a situation where I cannot provide the client with his correct notices of assessment, the ATO refuses to advise if and when they will ever be provided and we all go nowhere.
I now have to waste time writing to the ATO demanding to be supplied with the correct notices and I also have to waste and wait most probably many months to even get anywhere, most probably I will never even get a reply to my correspondence.
It is high time that the ATO accepted and recognised that they should be working with us as tax agents and not putting many obstacles in our way and obstructing us in the way we all do business."
The Tax Institute's Tax Counsel TAMERA LANG responds:
POI procedures, and any changes to them, have been a topic of note at the ATO Tax Practitioners Forum (ATPF) at numerous meetings in the last couple of years. The Tax Institute has raised a number of potential problems with POI with the ATO. We gather these concerns from matters raised in TaxVine Member feedback, as well as members who contact us directly at email@example.com.
We understand that these new POI procedures may result in some inconvenience to tax agents, but we have attempted to minimise that inconvenience by suggesting additional ways that agents can satisfy POI. This includes utilising communication receipt numbers (which are available via the Tax Agent Portal) to be able to satisfy POI. We have also made suggestions for improvement to the ATO’s communication products on POI, to make them easier to read and understand. We hope that the ATO will take up our suggestions.
It has been brought to our attention by a number of members that some ATO call centre operators do not appear to be fully aware of the new POI requirements. If you encounter such an officer, we recommend that you ask for their team name/location, and report it to firstname.lastname@example.org. We can then bring this to the ATO’s attention.