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12 Mar 10 More on the processing of returns after(?) the ATO shutdown

MEMBER 32 writes:

"Today is Friday 5 March 2010 & I have just checked the Portal for advance notice of refunds. Nothing. Over 8 weeks later, clients are still sweating on refunds. In most cases the spouse or family member has received their debit assessment or small refund.

I am receiving assessments for returns lodged on 1 February but returns lodged in early January (earliest 4 January) languish.

Can the ATO be pressured to give top priority to January lodgments, preferably in order of lodgment?"

MEMBER 33 writes:

"The ATO stated in its press releases that it has processed 1 million returns to date. Previously it stated that they had processed 400,000 returns in the week ending 24 February and would process 300,000 in the week ending 5 March. We told our clients that the word “processing” might not have the same meaning as they would expect because the refunds still needed to go to a mail house and they had to allow another week on top of this. Today, Monday 8 March, a client rang me asking about his refund that he desperately needs. So we rang the ATO and they stated that they still had a large backlog and that they will fast track this taxpayer’s refund. However they also stated that this fast tracking will take 14 days. We have received very few Notices of Assessment so far. The only conclusion that we are able to draw is that the ATO is not being truthful in its press releases."

MEMBER 34 writes:

"I have been at the annual Taxation Institute conference and have come back to read Member 28’s comments (in 2010 TAXVINE No 8 (5 March 2010)) that a tax return they lodged on 22-12-09 had finally been processed but not be issued for another 10 days. I was then with great excitement that I looked on the ATO Portal to see if the tax return I also lodged on 22-12-09 was processed. Unfortunately not, it is currently being shown as “not lodged”. This is despite the fact that the ATO has assured both me and my client that the tax return has been lodged.

I also lodged other tax returns and an amendment, for this client, on the same date as this one and they were processed on 6-1-10. Why not this one? The fact is not only has the client had to wait for his funds but has had to borrow funds from family to get by. Not only that but he is requiring finance for his new home but the financier will not complete the loan until he produces his assessment notice. What happens if the financier says it has taken too long and you have to start again? Who pays the extra costs?

What can we do to get a simple tax return processed after two and a half months? So much for the 14 day turnaround."

MEMBER 35 writes:

"Instead of the Commissioner spending his time and resources thinking about ways he can raise more taxes by reinterpreting the application of Division 7A to trust entitlements, I wish he would concentrate on basics such as getting his systems in order. Our client has been waiting for a tax refund of over $100,000 which is recorded on their tax account effective late January but no one I talk to in the ATO can tell me why the refund has not issued. Not to worry! The ATO has escalated the issue and by their own lofty performance standards we should hear something within 2 weeks, which I guess is better than waiting for over a decade for the Commissioner to decide how he intends to apply Division 7A. Incidentally, I thought part of the Commissioner’s brief was to promote confidence in the tax system?"

MEMBER 36 writes:

"Lack of concern or help for tax agents following the aftermath of the change programme continues at the ATO.
Returns lodged before Christmas still not processed as promised, back log caught up by the end of February hasn't happened as promised, call centre team leaders do not call back with answers as promised, "Relationship Managers" ignore faxes, ELS reconciliation reports still not being received. And obviously nobody cares, we are expected to try and work with the mess. Does anybody have any idea when things might start to happen again? The excuses are starting to wear thin and we are getting no support from the ATO."

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