02 Mar 1212 On incorrect addresses used by the ATO
MEMBER 30 writes:
"Enough is enough
The fact of the ATO sending correspondence direct to the taxpayer's home address and not the 'POSTAL ADDRESS FOR SERVICE OF NOTICES' has been an ongoing issue for far too long with numerous complaints, but still no change by the ATO. It appears yet again that they are a law unto themselves and are devoid of listening to anyone - particularly us Tax Agents.
I had a classic example of the concern and grief caused by this maladministration by the ATO last week. I received a call from a frantic client about receiving what appeared to her to be a threatening and warning letter about her having to lodge her return by 31st March. This client has enough to worry about nursing her husband through the final weeks (or maybe even days) of his life, losing his fight with terminal cancer, without having to be unnecessarily worried directly and without cause by the ATO.
She thought, and was correct, that her 2011 ITR was under control and that she appointed us as her Tax Agents to deal with the ATO in respect to her taxation affairs and for correspondence from the ATO to come to us. What is more, the return wasn't late or anything – this is some 6 weeks before the due lodgment date.
Perhaps the ATO need to be reminded what an agent is - 'Agent = a person or business authorised to act on another's behalf' - as well as what a postal address is!
The ATO's job is to tell the appointed agent when the return is due and it is the agent’s job to inform the taxpayer of those obligations. If the agent doesn't fulfil their obligations as agent then the taxpayer can take action against the agent for a bad job.
What can be done to FORCE the ATO to use the 'POSTAL ADDRESS' as the postal address? Action is required to stop this out of control 'monster' continuing to inflict such grief on us tax agents and our clients.
To The Tax Institute - PLEASE act on behalf of your members!"
THE TAX INSTITUTE'S TAX COUNSEL, STEPHANIE CAREDES, COMMENTS: "The ATO has for some time issued letters directly to "Tax Level 6 Return Taxpayers" whose tax returns are due on 31 March 2012 (for the 2011 year). The Tax Institute is aware of the practice which has been endorsed in the past, however, we are always open to hear any further comments you may have on this practice.
To Member 30, if your particular case does not fall within the "Tax Level 6 Return Taxpayers" category, please contact us though TaxPolicy to discuss further."