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14 Oct 11 On the new computer system

MEMBER 185 writes:

"I have some anecdotal evidence that the new computer system just simply does not work.

One example - I had new clients ask me to prepare their 2011 tax returns. They had previously prepared and lodged their own, but following their 'need' to declare bankruptcy, they decided to seek assistance this year. I lodged the returns on 25 July, 2011. The estimate was for refunds for each of them. While I suspected that these refunds may be garnisheed by the ATO, I did expect to receive a Notice of Assessment for each taxpayer. Well, I was right in the first instance, that the ATO has the legislative backing to take all tax refunds, ahead of any other creditor, arising from the lodgment of subsequent tax returns. No real surprise there. However, despite several telephone calls to have the NoA issued, still today (7 October 2011) the new, wonderful, improved and expensive computer system cannot issue a Nil Assessment for each taxpayer. Very clever system we have.

Another example - when it was necessary to lodge 2008 taxation returns to be eligible for the tax bonus, I had one new client who needed to lodge 9 years' worth of returns. Once over the initial surprise of the situation, I duly prepared and lodged all 9 years' returns on the same date. As I expected, albeit 3 days later than the advertised 14 day refund period espoused by the ATO, I received 9 NoAs and one cheque attached to the current year NoA. Excellent service. Today, I am waiting, waiting and waiting. A new client with only 2 years returns to be lodged sought my help. The returns were lodged 2 August 2011 together on the same ELS transmission. The 2010 return was assessed and a refund cheque received 23 August 2011. So far, so good. But the Statement of Account that arrived with the NoA, on the same day, indicates that the 2011 return has been processed, and a credit balance sits in the income tax account. And, again, despite several calls of enquiry, the only thing achieved is an 'escalation' giving the ATO another 14 days' grace. And only one 48 hour telephone response from a promised 3 calls. And the taxpayer is still waiting for the refund cheque.

These situations are simply unacceptable standards from the ATO. Why can the new system not issue Nil Assessments? Why can the new system not process 2 years' returns concurrently? And discussing issues with colleagues reveals that there are many other examples of how the tax profession has to spend wasteful time acting as a go-between the client taxpayers and the ATO. All too often, it is me who cops the flack and disgruntled attitudes from clients who cannot comprehend how the ATO cannot do what it, just a few years ago, could do.

During all these and other episodes, I have been in touch with my Client Relationship Manager. Even despite his best efforts at all times, situations cannot be resolved on a timely basis.

The new system has been a backward step, and somebody in the ATO needs to be held accountable.

Keep up the good work TAXVINE. The Member Feedback section is an invaluable read, just to remind me that I am not the only agent being victimised by the ATO.

Thank you for allowing me to share my 'gripe'."

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