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25 Jan 13 On the Portal

MEMBER 3 writes:

"Let's all pray that the incoming Commissioner's first task is to instigate a thorough and comprehensive review and urgent upgrade of the Portal and ATO systems. We have all had to put up with the rubbish that the system generates for far too long now and the state of the Portal would make anyone cry. I am now looking at a computer screen with the Portal telling me that I do not have permission to view the page and this is before I even try and select a client! For too long the ATO has turned a blind eye to failure after failure and it is clearly time for someone to take ownership of these issues and deal with them once and for all!"

MEMBER 4 writes:

"As a long term TTI member I have, along with many other Tax Agents, complained about the ATO's poor response to our concerns & how on many occasions our needs had been totally ignored by them, especially in the area of Portal slow & down times.

I would now like to compliment the ATO on changes that have & will come into being which has made & will make my job so much easier. The first one is that now when I apply for an ABN & TFN as the tax agent that client's information is now automatically transferred to my new client on the Portal. I no longer have to add the client separately.

The second is the ATO have said "...we are pleased to announce that from 21 January 2013 you will be able to view and print copies of notices of assessment in the Tax Agent Portal:"

Excellent and well done. That which makes it easier for us Practitioners to access makes our job simpler as we can than pick up a job once, finish it and put it away. Rather than order it from the ATO, wait days or weeks than pick the job up again. It will make my job easier and will hopefully mean the ATO staff can deal with more important issues.

The Portal (when it is working) has become one of my best operating tools.

Once again. Well done!"

MEMBER 5 writes:

"Happy New Year, TAXVINE.

It's somehow comforting to know that some things never change - a new year and still the Tax Agents Portal only works some of the time. Honestly, how hard can it be? Is the ATO really developing world leading technology with this Portal, such that it still has high-tech developmental issues? We can only hope, I suppose. But as long as it takes 28 days to transfer funds between the income tax account and the integrated client account, I will struggle to be convinced.

Looking forward to another year of TAXVINE keeping the laser pointer on the dark underbelly of my life as a tax agent."

MEMBER 6 writes on Portal insecurity:

"This issue is potentially technical, but I will try to keep it simple.

Access to the ATO Portal (aka pothole) requires the installation of Java runtime and use of the ATO's Java applet.

Ongoing security weaknesses and vulnerabilities of Java have been well documented elsewhere.

To assist users to remain safe from Java exploits, in 2012 Apple removed Java from their operating systems (OSX and IOS). On 10 January 2013, the US Department of Homeland Security warned Americans to remove or disable Java from all their computers, due to serious concerns about existing and expected flaws. See here.

These are serious security flaws, and permit hackers to execute arbitrary code on vulnerable systems, when a user merely visits a malicious website.

What plans and timetable do the ATO have to abandon this weak Java technology?

Meanwhile, accountants are advised to disable or remove Java from most computers in their offices, and to restrict Portal access to a single (or few) dedicated computer/s which are NOT used for any other browsing tasks. What a nuisance. Thanks.

(BTW, apparently all our banks are able to secure their internet banking websites without any Java. Hopefully, the ATO could learn to do same.)"

THE TAX INSTITUTE'S TAX COUNSEL, STEPHANIE CAREDES, COMMENTS: "Member 6, we will raise this issue with the Electronic Advisory Working Group. Members with similar issues or concerns should email us at TaxPolicy."

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