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MEMBER 202 writes:

"A client of ours was selected for the 12 week investigation. The I return was lodged on the 5 August 2011.

On 23 September 2011 the ATO requested receipts and other details. This letter indicated that the initial review was finalised but now the ATO required substantiation of expenses. We promptly provided this information on 29 September before the due date of 14 October 2011. Today we contacted the ATO enquiring about the progress of the refund (4 November 2011).

The sting is that the ATO will apply a further 6 weeks from the due date (ie 14 October 2011) of any second ATO letter, regardless of the fact that the information was sent to the ATO much earlier. The question is, where did this additional 6 weeks come from? Why from the final due date? Also, I was told they are very busy.

So the 12 weeks promise can blow out by another 6 weeks.

This process has taken two members of our firm to make numerous calls to the client and the ATO, stay on hold, continually checking the Portal.

Must some be some sophisticated software that is being introduced? It is frustrating for all concerned...especially the client (oh well, we move on)."

MEMBER 203 writes:

"I have also experienced delay with the 12 week processing - rather than questions issuing in relation to the possible 'fraud' we have been asked to provide substantiation for all items of salary and deductions on the tax return, as well as proof of marriage (for the second year running).

However, not all readers may be aware that there is also a group of '60 day' returns - I have a number of these and the common theme is that they all have overseas investments. Wait 30 days to be told by the ATO that no escalation is available until 60 days have passed - wait 60 days to be told that the release of the refund is waiting for 'approval of team leader' and matter would be escalated. Wait another 14 days and still nothing. Fascinating thing is that no one from the ATO has asked either the taxpayer or myself for any additional information.

As a postscript to the above - I have just been contacted by the ATO for further information - on the 74th day. They have just started the process of reviewing this 'high risk/ return. I shouldn't have been told that it was waiting for 'approval of team leader'."

MEMBER 204 writes:

"Just a note to advise that once again the ATO's super new computer system is still holding up the processing of tax returns and refunds for an individual.

I lodged a return electronically by ELS on the 16 October 2011, for a refund of about $ 1,100, and as of today (7 November 2011) the return still has not been processed and I have called the ATO twice and ended up in Melbourne only to be told that their standard processing time is 30 days and not the 14 days that we are promised for a return that has been lodged by ELS.

I am also advised that the return has been taken offline for manual intervention and I cannot call anyone until after the 30 days have passed. After this time I can call and then I can have the matter escalated and then I have to wait another 14days for somebody to investigate the matter.

If nothing again happens then I can escalate matters again and wait another 14 days.

This is really unacceptable. The processing system should be advising the call centre staff as to why the return has been taken offline and what the problem is, so that we in turn can keep our clients advised of what is happening with their return processing.

I might add that the husband's tax return for a refund of some $16,000 odd dollars was processed in 8 days and he already has his refund."

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