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05 Apr 12 On the ATO retaining tax refunds

MEMBER 74 writes:

“Whilst I understand and appreciate that the ATO are trying to increase the integrity of the tax system, in particular the issue of sham refunds, some of the policies they have adopted are only serving to disenfranchise a great many honest taxpayers. My personal view is that, as a nation, we are slipping back into the bad old days of ‘us against them’, with the ATO being more and more often viewed by ordinary taxpayers as considering them (the taxpayers) as being ‘guilty until proven innocent’ instead of the other way around.

From a small practitioner’s view, my main concerns are:

  1. ATO sending mail direct to taxpayers rather than via the taxpayers’ elected representative, ie, their Tax Agent. In our case, a vast majority of our clients do not have postal delivery service to their street address, therefore the mail ends up in the ‘letterbox in the sky’.
  2. ATO refusing to divulge to the taxpayer or their Agent – even after three to five months – why the taxpayer’s return is under review.
  3. ATO refusing to divulge to the taxpayer or their Agent – even after three to five months – when the taxpayer’s return is likely to be actioned.
  4. ATO, after withholding some refunds for more than six months, releasing the refunds without asking for any substantiation or offering any explanation whatsoever.

The ATO policies listed above are only serving to make the ATO appear to be sneaky and secretive (eg, why don’t they want the Tax Agent to see their correspondence?), instead of open and transparent, and the policies need to be addressed to preserve the ATO’s credibility and relationship with the public.”

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