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THE ATO RESPONDS to the feedback from Member 96 in last week's edition of TAXVINE - see 2014 TAXVINE No 26 (25 July 2014):
"Over the past few weeks we have had ongoing system stability issues resulting in slowness, timeouts and at times no access to the tax practitioner portal which have caused us all high levels of frustration and significant disruption to many of you.  Mostly the disruption has occurred during the periods of peak use leading into and following lunch and in the evening around 9pm. The week beginning the 14th of July and going into the weekend was particularly bad as was Monday the 28th of July when usage peaked at very high levels.
Where possible we try to advise practitioners of planned outages in advance through the maintenance page on the website, SMS alerts and portal messages.  With the exception of major work such as at Tax Time, we also seek to schedule outages at night and at times into Sunday morning to allow you as much flexibility as possible to plan your working hours.  However, at times we need to carry out emergency maintenance to resolve issues resulting in us being unable to give much by way of advance warning.
We have heard your concerns and frustrations and devoted a great deal of time and resourcing to managing and alleviating the issues with your access to the portals and providing advance warning.  We currently have constant monitoring of the portal and are addressing any issues as they arise.  At present our system appears to have stabilised as a result of software and hardware fixes but we appreciate you using the practitioner telephone service to alert us to any new issues."