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21 Mar 1313 More on the ATO's database

MEMBER 50 writes:

"I would like to concur with Member 40 in last week's TAXVINE - see 2013 TAXVINE No 8 (15 March 2013) - in that I have the same and continual criticism of the ATO. I have valid CU forms/reports lodged in July 2012 for the 2012 tax year and the ATO system keeps advising that the tax returns are still required - c'mon ATO get your act together.

Further, I am a rural practitioner and would appreciate the transcript of the Hobart information meeting (and any other meetings) concerning all the matters that have been raised concerning the 85% lodgment threshold and the specific failings of the ATO database as mentioned in the continual gripes through Member Feedback."

MEMBER 51 writes:

"I agree with Member 40 in last week's TAXVINE that the ATO IT area lacks ability. I came back from 2 week's break at Xmas to find that I could not lodge via ELS to the ATO.

I spent well over 1 week looking for the error myself. Still not fixed then contacted the ATO about problem and referred to 'level 1' of their IT area. They only told me things to do that I had already done. Then transferred all my files and ELS software to my new Laptop hoping that this would fix problem. After another week, Laptop gets same error message. So I got every IT expert from around my area to look at this problem. They could not fix as they told me that they do not know the program, all they could say was that I needed a new computer. When I told them that I had transferred everything to my new Laptop they just very sheepishly left my office. Help!!!

Two weeks had gone by with me doing no work other than trying to fix the problem. Got referred to 'level 2' of the IT area of the ATO who gave me new passwords and checked VPN and CISCO programme which I had already done earlier - still no fix, so referred to 'level 3' of the ATO. This after 3 weeks trying to fix the problem myself. I am a sole practitioner and if I can't lodge Tax Returns via my computer I also could not bill my clients. I had clients coming into my office asking when did I think they would get their refunds - when I hadn't even lodged their return!

Week 4 in sheer desperation I went through everything connected with the CISCO and ELS programme and finally just thought I would try another gateway - I usually use Adelaide but decided to change everything to Sydney. Well surprise surprise it worked! and kept on working. I contacted 'Level 3' of the IT Department of the ATO who told me that they would have to check this out as I had told them my solution to the problem.

They came back to me to tell me that the ATO computer had locked me out of Adelaide and they didn't know why or how this happened. I suggested to them that in future if a Tax Practitioner comes to them with a lodgment problem then they should check the gateways first thing - not the last. They told me that they were the only level which had authority to handle such an issue and that if every Tax Practitioner was sent through to their Level then they wouldn't be able to handle the work load.

So are they now admitting that there are many many problems that Tax Agents have with interacting via computers with the ATO!!! I think so and who is going to reimburse me for 4 weeks of lost time and Income? Not the ATO I am sure. Now they are going to do away with ELS within the next few years. Why? because it is old? Why fix something that is not broken and replace it with something that will be broken no doubt, if the Tax Portal is anything to go by. I say this because I have been lodging Tax Returns since 1991 via ELS and never had a problem before this latest episode but it really was not an ELS problem, rather a problem caused by the ATO.

Watch out folks. We are going to have many many other problems (computer wise) interacting with the ATO in the future. I say this because the ATO don't give a hoot about Tax Practitioners as long as they can continue to design and implement 'new ideas' then they are happy and no doubt well paid for programmes that are not properly tested - no problem here just let the Tax Practitioner fix the problems. We are good guinea pigs."

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