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THE ATO RESPONDS to the feedback from Member 99 in last week's edition of TAXVINE - see 2014 TAXVINE No 26 (25 July 2014):
"Thank you for taking the time to let us know about your recent experience with us. We are sorry to hear that in this instance your issue was unable to be resolved in a timely manner.
The payment references being generated in our ATO portal are accurate and without the actual client details we are unable to investigate the specifics of this particular case. However it sounds like one of two scenarios may have occurred:
(1) the payment went to our direct credit payment error queue (i.e. what you have referred to as a 'black hole') because the Payment Reference Number (PRN) was incorrect when received in our ATO systems - hence we cannot allocate the payment because we don’t know who it is from; or
(2) the PRN entered belonged to another client and the payment was incorrectly allocated to their account.
Payments made via direct credit require the client to enter the PRN in the reference field of their banking package and this field accepts any free-text. If the PRN is entered correctly our ATO systems can unpack the data and allocate it to the client account. However, if the PRN is entered incorrectly it goes to our error queue for manual correction.
Given that the client experienced the same issue twice, it is possible that their banking system has saved the PRN that was keyed in the initial interaction and applied it to the subsequent interaction. We would like to encourage the client to make future payments using BPAY or credit card as those channels validate the PRN when entered and should therefore avoid any further issues."