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MEMBER 351 writes, in response to Member 344's comments in last week's TAXVINE (see 2010 TAXVINE No 47 (19 November 2010)):

"Because I usually work on my own and visit clients and another office frequently, I used to divert my phone to mobile but that becomes very expensive when the bulk of calls come from the ATO or their debt collectors so I don't divert any more - my clients know I will call them back as soon as I get their message.

I have very frequent calls from debt collectors chasing the same couple of clients and frequent calls for ex clients from both the ATO and debt collectors - I sold a practice 6 years ago and all the clients were transferred - but I didn't get rid of my tax agent registration and restarted in another area only to get calls about the clients of the practice I sold.

The system is obviously not up to scratch and my strategy for fixing it up is to force them to use their own phone book to find clients' numbers if that is what they are looking for and if they leave a message on my phone, I simply ignore it. If they want to call and ask damn fool questions that they could answer themselves with a miniscule amount of thinking and effort, I figure I am contributing to their system testing and data correction.

Now if you want a bit of a giggle, I just had a client on the phone who was subject to an audit recently - she was pinged for undeclared income in 2008 and her assessment was amended and penalty shortfall interest imposed and needed me to check what she actually had to pay because the accounts didn't make any sense to her (surprising you may think - not!) - but - amending the assessment made her eligible for the tax bonus - end result - she has actually come out $500 better off. That effort cost the ATO a visit to the country for two staff and no end of phone calls and searching through records - the downside is, the people who make the decisions on systems and who do audit work for you and me and their salaries come from the tax we pay - bring on the revolution!!!"

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