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

MEMBER 59 writes:

"Just a quick note on being part of the increasing number of frustrated tax agents.

Having got close to the end of my tether, I telephoned my relationship manager - God Bless Him - he's on leave! The very helpful lass, who I also believe was a relationship manager, gave me the usual spin on how there is a backlog, etc etc. The gob smacking moment was when she said that the ATO had managed to issue some enormous number of assessments as zero assessments and that these were all having to be re-issued. This on top of the current backlog.

Don't know about anyone else, but I am getting increasingly disheartened about the lack of mail coming out of the ATO. I am beginning to dread the day that the outstanding assessments actually hit my mail box and am wondering how many trailers I will need to hire to get the assessments back to my office!

The one thing I do find amazing though, is that the ATO is issuing notices and demands for payments but not for refunds - is this a sign of the times perhaps, and the computer upgrade is just an excuse!"

MEMBER 60 writes:

"The following is extracted from an ATO email subscription update received Thursday 18 March 2010:

'Update on processing and refunds

We advised in our February special edition that we are currently introducing a new income tax processing system. So far, we have processed more than 1.2 million income tax returns in our new system, including all stockpiled returns and returns received up until the end of February.

We have issued:
  • around 440,000 refunds to taxpayers
  • around 540,000 notices of assessment, and
  • around 380,000 statements of account.
Some of these are still at the printers and will take another few days to be delivered to taxpayers.'

The last line is a beauty and the impression created until then is that everything's going beautifully when unfortunately it isn't. The bulletin is just simply misleading and should be corrected. It wouldn't be deliberately trying to paper over all the  problems would it, I wonder?

The update fails to mention the huge delays being experienced, the difficulties being caused or the errors encountered. It is simply just wrong to say all stockpiled returns received up until the end of February have been processed. Whoever edits the WENSubscription bulletins ought to be disciplined for issuing misleading information and there needs to be a correction issued urgently. Returns stockpiled since December haven't been processed and the misinformation being spread in the update should immediately be withdrawn."

MEMBER 61 writes:

"The drug companies must be making a fortune from the sale of tranquilizers to us agents! Apart from the ATO being complete and utter liars, our clients are a tad upset and no doubt will go shopping for a different agent next season.

I have passed on this whole debacle to an investigative journalist, but doubt anything will ever get into print as the Government will probably gag it."

MEMBER 62 writes:

"The Commissioner in his speech to Taxation Institute National Convention stated that 'the work has gone well' being the transfer of tax records onto the new system. And footnote ATO online 'To date we have processed all stockpiled tax  returns received up to the end of February and have resumed normal processing'.

Excuse me. We have not received one refund assessment for lodgments made since 4 January 2010. Who is kidding who?

Further we are installing a new server and computer system in May 2010 and whereas we do not expect any delays or problems I am sure if we do then the Commissioner will grant us an extension of at least an extra two months to lodge all  returns. Surely he will grant this in the interests of fairness and not wishing to have double standards."

MEMBER 63 writes:

"Dear Members:

Here is a thought to get ATO computers back on track - Send Michael D'Ascenzo to Customs and bring back Michael Carmody to fix the mess. Remember, this was the man who proudly processed 2000 tax returns a day manually and ATO computers are certainly not keeping up with that pace!!!

Michael Carmody, the ATO needs you!!!"

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