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06 Aug 1010 More on the ATO's performance (or lack thereof)

MEMBER 234 writes:

"I was thrilled to receive an update from the ATO to tell me that the processing of 2010 returns is going so well - 94% processed within the 14 or 42 days last year and this year they aim to do the same - trouble is mine are about 94% outside the service standard - even those that have been recently lodged and processed are showing effective dates that take them outside the service standard. They are not so much of a worry because something is happening - slowly - but the ones that just sit there as credits on the client’s income tax account for weeks for no obvious reason are a real problem to clients and consequently to me. I wonder if the system upgrade is still envied by the rest of the world??"

MEMBER 235 writes:


So many times I ask this question. Not a single day goes by when I get exasperated by the senselessness of the ATO systems. A new client asks me to prepare his tax return. He has previously lodged himself. Nothing unusual in the return preparation. The Notice of Assessment arrives with a Statement of Account. The taxpayer had his 2007 tax return refund cheque totalling $4.12 go stale. The ATO reinstated the credit early in 2010. The 2010 tax return was lodged, processed and a refund transferred to his nominated bank account. But the additional $4.12 was left in the Income Tax Account and not paid to him. Incredible.


MEMBER 236 writes:

"Another example of the ATO's incompetence.

Lodged 5 Returns on Validation # 108     14/07/10

Return 1)             Effective Date 26/7         Sent Out 23/7
Return 2)             Effective Date 21/7         Sent Out 23/7
Return 3)             Shown as not lodged as at 1/8/10
Return 4)             Effective Date 24/7         To go out on 2/8
Return 5)             Effective Date 26/7         Sent Out 23/7

Just as well we have Electronic Lodgements. Just as well the ATO process in order of receipt. Just as well the ATO's computer system is worth millions of dollars and runs like a well oiled machine.

Just as well the ATO's system of processing  tax returns is as efficient as the staff that we agent's have to deal with on a daily basis that have no idea, are poorly trained and are at a loss as to how their system functions."

MEMBER 237 writes:

"Dear TAXVINE, I have just returned to Australia after an extensive break following my retirement, which was brought forward due to the stress of working for the ATO (note for, not with, the ATO). I note with bemusement the ongoing disaster of the new ATO computer Change program. How did the Commissioner of Taxation get the recent Australia Day award for improved Public Administration? It defies logic."

MEMBER 238 writes:

"I have just been reading about a speech Tax Commissioner Mr D'Ascenzo made to a professional body back in April 2010 where he is quoted as saying:
'If the ATO is to achieve its vision of creating the best possible tax administration, one that the community supports and values, we need to work closely and co-operatively with the tax profession.'
We can all agree with his sentiments but clearly he has a long way to go to actually try to have the organisation that he leads match its actions to his words.
Down at the grass roots level the exact opposite sentiment seems to be in play, that is, make life as difficult as we can for tax agents.
For example, ATO people seem to have come up with some wonderful ways to be cooperative:

  • we could implement a new system, no need to test it properly before implementation, because we could just take 6 months to fix all the problems and bed it down. Lodgment deadlines during the 6 months for FBT or activity statements don't matter, we could just give the agents a token 7 day extension right at the end for a pretty meaningless deadline. No need to keep agents informed during the 6 months either, just keep sending out flowery bulletins pretending there is nothing wrong and that everything's going along fine.
  •  or we could get agents' clients to nominate a postal address they prefer to use and then simply ignore it and send mail to another address. The letters could imply their agent doesn't know much about, say, work related expenses, or rental properties and they could imply that claims have been made incorrectly and tell them to ring the ATO and not their agents if they have any worries.
  •  at tax time we could just change that nuisance of a processing standard of 14 days for ELS lodgments and blow it out to an arbitrary, say, 30 days without discussing it with them or even telling them.
So much for co-operation, Mr Commissioner, your words are unfortunately a joke, but we wish you well with your endeavour as it is greatly needed, and quickly because down here at the coal face things are getting pretty strained."

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