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21 Oct 11 On ATO (in)efficiency

MEMBER 189 writes:

"I have a client who lodged his 2009 financial year tax return in September 2009. He had an income in arrears payment which put his family income over the threshold for the Medicare surcharge. However, as we know, if you put in all the relevant information in the tax return, the ATO will not asses the surcharge.

In March this year he, and his wife, who is also a client, received an amended assessment asking for the Medicare surcharge to be paid. I then contacted the ATO about this on 11 March 2011 and was told someone would return my call within 48 hours. After no contact from the ATO I faxed them on 4 April 2011. I did receive a call back and I was asked if I had done everything that was required to inform the ATO, at the time of lodging the tax returns, so they knew not to charge the levy, and of course everything was done in accordance with the legislation. They then said they would reverse the Medicare surcharge so the clients would have no tax bill to pay.

Next my client receives a very confusing statement that shows a credit owing and also a tax debt on the one document. I again contacted the ATO who agreed it was confusing and would follow it up. The client then received a letter of demand for the tax bill in May 2011. Again I contacted the ATO who said it was a computer error and would put on file that the payment would be delayed until end of August. Hopefully by then the computer would sort it out as my client did not actually owe any money to the ATO.

My client decided to do his 2011 financial year tax return at the end of July 2011 and is expecting a tax refund. I then checked the client account, and guess what, the debt was still there. I then faxed the ATO on 7 August-2011 stating that the debt was due to the new computer (that the ATO spent millions on) not calculating the income in arrears rebate due on my client's 2009 tax return, and this is why he had a tax debt. I phoned 2 days later to confirm they had received the fax and was told the case had not been allocated but all would be done.

On Friday,7 October 2011, after no response from the ATO, I again checked my client's account and the debt was still showing so I phoned the ATO again and was asked if it had been 28 days since I sent the information in. Of course it had been well over that. I was told the case was still unallocated but someone would call me within 2 business days. I know it is now Wednesday 12 October 2011 after 5-00pm and in my view more than 2 business days, but maybe the ATO had a holiday in there, but I still have not heard from the ATO.

I have been given reference numbers along the way but they seem to be worthless. How do we get the ATO to do their job? My client wishes to receive his tax refund but I can't lodge his tax return or the ATO will take his refund that they are not due for."

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