MEMBER 190 writes:
"I recently received a data matching letter noting that my client's claim for legal expenses to do with his rental property 'may be incorrect' and therefore would be disallowed unless I took the necessary action (shades of Member 187 in 2014 TAXVINE No 43 (21 November 2014)).
The necessary action involved ringing the appropriate 1300 number for the data matching area - and having to listen to the totally irrelevant recorded message about leaving a voice-print. When I finally got through to a very helpful staff member I asked the question - 'what is the fast key code for this area?' There isn't one. Could some genius please explain why the tax agent community cannot get some priority access to this most basic part of the ATO? Is there a legitimate reason, or is it just meant to make life harder for us?
Thanks for the chance to rant, TAXVINE, I do appreciate it."
TAX COUNSEL THILINI WICKRAMASURIYA COMMENTS: Recent data matching letters in relation to rental properties were discussed at a meeting of the ATO Tax Practitioners Advisory Group (ATPAG) on Friday 21 November 2014. The ATO indicated that these letters have stopped being issued pending a review of the strong wording in the letters, in particular the presumption that the expenses disclosed may be incorrect. Nevertheless, the ATO indicated that they will continue to make inquiries where the amount of expenses appear to be unusual based on data matching techniques. ATO indicated that in most cases they attempt to co-design such letters before they are issued but that was not done in this case. The ATO can extend the time allowed to respond to such requests for information. Please contact us at TaxPolicy@taxinstitute.com.au if you are in need of an extension of time to respond to one of these recent letters and we can put you in touch with the relevant ATO contact.