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

MEMBER 51 writes:

"My client lodged company tax return in January 2010 containing an entitlement to an R& D refund. The return was never  recorded as lodged at the ATO despite my office having a validation report.

After numerous follow ups the ATO have found the return in their system - but due to a software problem they cannot  access the return or act on it in any way. They have told us we cannot re-lodge or lodge manually - they have to fix it from  their side. My client has become desperate for his refund as he now believes his R& D business is in financial jeopardy.

The ATO cannot solve the problem and the money is therefore locked in their system until they sort out their computer  issue. They don’t seem to see it as a critical issue to small business people.

Has this happened to anybody else?"


MEMBER 52 writes:

"Once upon a time I would collect my mail daily at my post office box and each day there would be a number of tax  assessment notices, depending on the time of year. Then one day "Big Brother" decided to implement the change program,  supposedly to improve their processing of all things tax related. We all accepted that there would be delays in processing  assessments, however it is getting beyond a joke.

I checked 21 clients' status on the Portal the other day and to my amazement 12 are shown as "Not Lodged" and the  remaining 9 are showing that assessments have issued with "Effective Dates" varying from 24 February to 15 March 2010,  yet as of today's date (17th) not one assessment notice has been received. The oldest lodged returns date back to 23  December 2009 and in frustration I contacted the RM section of the ATO. The person from RM has escalated these 2  returns and assures me that another "Case Officer" will contact me about these 2 returns. I won't hold my breath waiting.

Oh well, it is St Patricks Day, so I reckon it might be time to go to my local Irish pub and have a Guinness or three. Cheers  one and all."


MEMBER  53 writes:

"I normally do not comment on ATO efficiency as I feel it can be counterproductive.  The ATO it seems is ironing out bugs  in its new system and once that is done I’m sure that it will work well. But it seems to me that the ATO is not keeping the  public informed about late Notice of Assessments. This office is being run off its feet taking client calls about notices of  assessment & refunds and then having to ring the ATO to get the standard response that it has been issued & should be  here in 1-2 weeks. Then the call to the client to explain.

The ATO should be proactive in advising the public about the lateness of its assessments at the moment and not just  spruiking about how many it has issued."


MEMBER 54 writes:

"Can we PLEASE change back to the old system as the new one seems woeful.
 
The delay in ATO processing is now becoming laughable and the only information we receive is a broadcast about how wonderful every thing is. No mention of how many returns have been delayed and by how long, no mention that many of the returns showing as "processed" may not have had anything actually happen in practice as yet.

The ATO system can show that an assessment has issued but that is not the case, in some cases funds have not been transferred to nominated bank accounts and in others the funds have been transferred but two weeks later no assessment notices have been received.
 
Finally call centre staff seem to be waking up to the fact and admitting that there may actually be some problems, but sadly no such response as yet from the areas that are supposed to be running the systems. The time being wasted fielding questions and complaints from clients is a big problem. No doubt ATO call centre staff are also wasting time fielding questions and complaints from tax agents.
 
In last weeks TAXVINE we were told the ATO expected to clear the backlog by 12 March. Wrong yet again. It’s just been one missed promise after another - lodge before Christmas and assessments will issue before the shut down, processing will start again on 8 February, the back log will be cleared by the end of February. Wrong on all counts.
 
Can the TIA talk to someone that matters to ensure the ATO is actually putting some resources into fixing the mounting problems and see that something starts to happen quickly?

If I see another missive from the Commissioner about what a huge job it’s been for his people and how terrific it’s been handled I think I will vomit."


MEMBER 55 writes:

"I’ve received to-day an ATO questionnaire via DBM consultants enquiring of my level of satisfaction in dealing with ATO staff & Relationship staff. No big deal – mostly satisfied in dealing with genuinely concerned ATO staff. What cheeses me off is that the real issues re the NEW Tax Regime (of which 8 to 10 week assessment delays and 4 to 6 page assessments are recent examples) remain very silent. Is there anyone in the bowels of the ATO who gave any forethought to the chaos & cash-flow impact on taxpayers and tax agents this “big new tax” – sorry “system” would have? Is there some training school for up and coming ATO leaders based on Mars (the planet for ATO readers) who dream this stuff up or is it the dead hand of Treasury quietly resting on the ATO tiller?"


MEMBER 56 writes:

"Sick to death of trying to get the ATO to resolve issues without success? Contact the Commonwealth Ombudsman via website http://www.comb.gov.au telephone 1300 362 072 or write to the Taxation Ombudsman, PO Box 442 Canberra ACT 2601.

Tax professionals need to send a very strong message to the ATO that the fiasco of the last eight odd weeks (and counting) is completely unacceptable. The ATO doesn't appear to be listening to tax practitioners, maybe the Commonwealth Ombudsman can make them listen. Let's all band together and try and put an end to all this frustration, inconvenience, time wasting, head banging, client complaints etc, etc. Contact the Commonwealth Ombudsman now."

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