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MEMBER 15 writes:

"We lodged a client's return on 22 December 2010, expecting a payable assessment. On 24 January 2011 she contacted us, wanting to know when she would receive her assessment, as her bank wants it to assist in a loan approval. We looked on the Portal, and found that the expected liability was there, but due and payable on 22 November 2010, a month prior to lodgment. We rang the ATO.

ATO - Assessment not yet available, processing has not yet been completed.

Me - But the payable amount is showing on the Portal.

ATO - Hmm, don't know why that would be, I'll escalate it for you. Sit back and wait 14 days.

Me - mutter, mutter.

But I got impatient. A few days later.

Me - Why has the due date been set prior to lodgment?

ATO - Because she hasn't lodged 2008 and 2009 returns.

Me - I'm sorry, but the Portal report says that they have.

ATO - Oh, so it does. Maybe our systems aren&'t talking to each other properly. But I can see that you've got an escalation in the system, that will probably deal with it. Keep waiting.

Me - mutter, mutter.

I rang at 4.45pm on the 14th day and was told that the 14 days weren't up yet, and to continue to be patient (and to please note that she would like to help me, but she can only respond using her scripts).

I rang on the 15th day.

ATO - Oh, hasn't anyone called you yet? OK, I'll escalate it to the next level, here's your receipt number, sit back and wait 14 days.

Me - mutter, mutter.

There is no accountability, there is no scope for the helpful staff to actually do anything apart from read scripts and press "Escalate" buttons, and in cases like this there is no assistance given to the tax profession.

How hard can it be, really? We lodge the returns, the ATO processes them. How many millions were spent on this system, that we were told would be so wonderful? I'm not seeing it.

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