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09 Mar 12 On the ATO's (lack of) communications

MEMBER 46 writes:

"I really enjoy reading the feedback in TAXVINE - it makes me feel part of the profession again after another week of thinking I have been shunned and ignored by the rest of the world - well, the ATO anyway!

It appears that the complaints about the ATO are predominantly laying the blame for their multitude of stuff ups on the ATO systems - however, I am beginning to wonder if that is the problem.

The ATO - if memory serves me right - put the mail function on the Portal so that we could communicate effectively with the ATO without sitting in a phone queue only to get the ear of someone who didn't know what we were talking about. I thought this was a great idea - I can shoot off requests and queries that are directed to the correct area by selection of the particular topic or area of relevance - I can see the matter is received when I look at Client Dealings - presumably the system picks up the message and allocates a reference number and estimated completion date and adds it to the file of the subject client.

I had a look at the messages I have sent since February last year - quite a few of them - and I spent a lot less time looking at the ATO responses - over that period only one message received a response - it was a request for remission of a failure to lodge penalty for one of my 'tax cheat' clients - a trustee company that had never traded and was incorporated in late June of the tax year in question. I have written a few letters too and provided responses to some of the annoying letters to clients - strangely they haven't been attended to either. Apart from the one remission of penalty, the only way I have had any response to problems is when The Tax Institute has taken up the case with the ATO.

It appears that apart from the sections that impose penalties or send out meaningless or offensive letters, there is actually no one working at the ATO - if the computer doesn't do it, it doesn't get done! I think we are long overdue for a cleanout of the upper ranks of the ATO staff and replacement with people who are not career public servants who have actually held a job where they are required to perform effectively or suffer the consequences - sorry gotta rush off - the pigs are all fuelled and ready to fly!!"

THE TAX INSTITUTE'S TAX COUNSEL, STEPHANIE CAREDES, COMMENTS: "To Member 46, thank you for acknowledging the hard work and assistance The Tax Institute has given you in resolving issues with the ATO. To all our members, this service is available to you all. Where you do have longstanding unresolved issues with the ATO and have been unable to obtain resolution, please send your query through to us at TaxPolicy and we will see how we can assist you."

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