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On "wash up" delays

MEMBER 350 writes:

"We have a situation where our client paid their PAYG instalment on 26 July 2010. To avoid complications it was thought best to pay the instalment prior to lodging the income tax return. The tax return was prepared, lodged later that month and the assessment issued 10 August. A refund of most of the PAYG instalment was expected. Oh no, a debit assessment was issued and no credit for the instalment.

On initial contact with the ATO, we were told that 'it's in the system, wait 28 days'. Not sure why it wasn't on the assessment.

Called the ATO a further 3 times over the coming months, being told it is a simple wash up case, in the system, call back if not received etc. On a later call we were referred to the PAYG exceptions department. Same story, can't see what the hold up is, advised that there were delays and a backlog of 4,000 wash up cases - well a genius at last, admitting there are delays.

It was suggested that if we did not receive a response soon, and still dissatisfied with progress, we should lodge a complaint.

Today, 24 November 2010, I called the complaints number. Amazingly, after a short wait, my call was addressed by a helpful officer who proceeded to tell me that I can lodge a complaint, but it won't have any impact on the process. The complaint will be passed to the wash up team, which is where I started some months back. In fact, although my contact details were taken, we may not even receive a phone call. In her words, 'wash up department has a large backlog of cases and we (in complaints) are being inundated with complaints from Tax Agents such as yourself'. Comforting thought? Unlikely, as I still need to front an ever growing disgruntled client to explain the ATO still has no idea. Who do you think the client will believe or even trust in the future? Thanks to the ATO, another probable lost client.

What is the point of lodging a complaint? This should not have been a wash up case in the first instance.

Who do we go to to get some sense? Does the Commissioner really know what is going on in his department?

What are our professional bodies doing about this sort of service (sorry, lack of)?

I am absolutely fed up. In my 25 years plus, I have never known the ATO to be in such an incompetent state.

Only bright light on the horizon is that I am out of here soon.

Have other Members had this run around?

TAXVINE is a great source of amusement and information. Keep up the good work."