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04 Apr 13 On the ATO's service delivery

MEMBER 65 writes:
"I have been in this business for over 30 years. I have lived through the introduction of FBT, CGT, substantiation and GST, and flourished. The past five years, however, have been nothing short of a nightmare, contributed to in no small part by the increasing under-resourcing of ATO staff, and outsourcing to often incompetent service providers; the cost/burden shift of client administration from the ATO to tax agents; the constant legislative tinkering and subsequent inconsistent ATO interpretation (five phone calls, five different answers); continual ATO computer generated errors on assessments and review; a malfunctioning Portal that was meant to streamline workflow, but in reality complicates it; and now, I am being subject to an 85% performance indicator. (We do meet our targets by the way).
The ATO has no real understanding of how things work in the real client-tax world. I do not work for the public sector, I work for my clients; I do not get public sector perks or benefits or other rewards. I have gone, over the past five years, from working 50-60 hours over a five day week at 50% productivity (I manage the place as well), to 60-70 hours over a six day week at 30% productivity. My internal KPIs are up the proverbial creek. My health is shot. My ego is deflated, and my stress levels inflated.
Can someone please tell the Commissioner that tax administration is a 'public service'; A public service is a service which is provided by government to people living within its jurisdiction, either directly (through the public sector) or by financing private provision of services. Given that the ATO has apparently abandoned its responsibility in direct service delivery, if the Commissioner wants my assistance in delivering ATO service (as opposed to delivering services demanded by my clients), then can he please let me know where to send the bill."

And MEMBER 66 writes, in response to the question "Does the Commissioner read TAXVINE" asked by Member 58 in last week's TAXVINE - see 2013 TAXVINE No 10 (28 March 2013):
"I would bet there are people in ATO management positions who would hope that the Commissioner didn't read TAXVINE. I agree that if he did read TAXVINE he would get an idea of what went on at the coal face instead of listening to ATO management that seem to be devoid of any ideas other than making life harder for Tax Agents, eg the 85% lodgment rule.
However, if the Commissioner would really like to find out what small firms go through and put up with he is more than welcome to come talk to me and anybody else who wants to join in. Learn what it's really like. Finally, just for the record, most of the tax industry is made up of small firms, not just the Big 4 or medium size firms."

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