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22 Jul 11 TaxTime update

Tax Counsel Tamera Lang ATIA attended the ATPF TaxTime Working Group teleconference on Thursday 21 July 2011.

Given the lack of negative feedback from members, TaxTime appears to be progressing smoothly thus far. It is a complete contrast to the same time last year, when members were experiencing slow processing and delayed refunds. That said, problems can arise, and if you believe you are experiencing difficulties that are attributable to the ATO’s systems, please contact us at Tax Policy. We are continuing to meet with the ATO weekly, so issues can be raised and addressed swiftly.

The ATO reported to the professional associations that they are still finding that taxpayers and agents are submitting returns with basic errors (for further detail, see information from the ATO below). The clear message is to check taxpayers’ personal details against the ATO’s pre-filling report prior to lodgement. A quick confirmation will mean that your client’s tax return does not get delayed by manual processing to correct a very basic error.

The ATO acknowledged that the Tax Agents Portal has experienced some difficulties, particularly with authentication and logging on. The ATO has a technical help desk that can be contacted via telephone 1300 139 393 (7.00am-midnight on weekdays) or email and they may be able to assist with your problem. There is also a “system maintenance and issues” page on the ATO website, which lists current unplanned outages as well as scheduled maintenance.

As a result of the Working Group teleconference, the ATO would like to pass on the following message:

Processing

The ATO advises that:

  • The processing of current year returns is proceeding normally and refunds are issuing as expected
  • Service standards are being met for both processing and answering phone calls
  • As at close of business on 20 July, over 400,000 current year refunds have issued with a value of over $1 billion.
  • Refunds for a further $511 million are expected to issue over the next two days for both current and prior year returns.

Of concern

  • The ATO is seeing no significant reduction in the volume or types of errors in agent-lodged returns.  The most common errors relate to year of birth, sex code and surnames.  Currently 22% of agent-lodged returns contain simple errors. Members should refer to Tips for Tax Time 2011.
  • Reiterating the message to members on 14 July 2011, the ATO continues to have concerns about the number of returns lodged that appear to contain potentially over-stated claims for credits, or fraudulent claims. Of particular concern are false payment summaries and questionable claims for spouse offsets. Some of these returns are being lodged by agents through ELS. The ATO encourages agents to be especially vigilant about these claims.
  • A tip to help gauge the authenticity of a payment summary is to compare the amount of tax deducted to reported salary and wages, and to check against pre-filling reports for both 2011 and 2010 payment summary information which remains available for download.

Calls

  • ATO call volumes are increasing with approximately 650,000 calls to 20 July
  • ATO service levels remain in the 90% range
  • Current high levels of performance may decrease slightly given higher volume of calls expected next week, but still within service standards.


ATO system access

  • We are investigating and addressing some intermittent issues with accessing ATO systems that require authentication of the user including the portal.

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