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16 Mar 12 On extensions and special circumstances

MEMBER 54 writes:

"Thanks for Member Feedback, it is reassuring to know you are not the only one barely gripping on to sanity.

In the 20 or so years I have been practising the biggest bugbear has been trying to get extensions for genuine issues outside a person's control.

I have even had imminent death rejected as an unacceptable excuse for special consideration.

My practice has been seriously affected by my own health problems including spinal surgery to remove tumours, bowel surgery for treatment of cancer and unfortunately a shattered knee as well. I have begged and pleaded with the ATO for extensions on the small number of jobs I have not been able to complete on time due to these problems but the standard response is 'Your deferral request was made after the due date and you have not provided sufficient reason for your request being late'. Would the ATO please publish a list of what sufficient reasons are? This would presumably be a very short list.

NORMAL human beings regard unfortunate medical circumstances as sufficient reason for special consideration, they are not foreseeable as the ATO often claim. The ATO seem not to share this view which begs the question 'Are they inhumane?' I believe so, their callous disregard for individual circumstances has had a direct impact on my health, home life and my relationship with my clients (not to mention my finances).

I know it is difficult for the ATO to believe but sometimes we get new clients who are behind in their affairs. Someone has to bring them up to date but we need time to do so. There is no point starting legal action and punishing someone who is trying to get their affairs in order, usually there is a valid reason (whether the ATO accept it as such or not) why they were behind also. As a result, we often bear the cost of trying to help those in the system who are least equipped to deal with it due to inhumane treatment by the ATO.

It is a shame the ATO always hide behind evermore complex administrative process and guidelines so they can blame the system for not being able to hear your cries for help (you can even do a degree in Tax Administration these days!). What a load of rubbish, their job is to administer the tax system not punish those who spend every free moment jumping through hoops to do the difficult part of their job for them. To the Tax Office: the public don’t care about your self-imposed constraints.

Perhaps we should establish a Tax Agent's Union as the professional bodies seem to think this inhumane treatment of their members is acceptable, the unions wouldn't..."


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