MEMBER 83 writes:
"I’ve been a Tax Agent and member of The Tax Institute for over 30 years, and I’m concerned about the way we receive telephone calls from the ATO.
We (Tax Agents) know the drill. We have to prove our ID by quoting minor things like our Tax Agent Codes, our names, addresses, our clients full names and addresses etc. All the other side says 'I’m Fred from the ATO'.
We don’t know for sure who we are talking to, and yet (my lawyer tells me) we are responsible for the privacy of our clients.
Frankly (tongue in cheek) I’d suggest to my colleagues that you only give your name, rank and serial number!
Why divulge any client information to an unsolicited & unidentified caller, when you are legally exposed for privacy? Try calling a bank or doctor's surgery for their client's information – good luck!
In case I get banned by the ATO for being a dissident, I do offer a solution. If the ATO want to have a serious conversation with a Tax Agent, they should:
a. Log their intention to have a phone conversation via the portal (this is secure – I think)
b. Provide three alternative dates and times.
c. Provide a code number so that the call be taken by the Tax Agent
Even better they should ask their question over the Portal.
Maybe I’m getting a bit spooked by the flood of recent extortions by bogus callers impersonating the ATO. Sooner or later a Tax Agent will be joined in a recovery action by one of my friendly lawyer mates.
How do we solve this issue? Any comments?"