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Tax Counsel Tamera Lang ATIA attended the ATPF TaxTime Working Group teleconference on Thursday 28 July 2011.

The ATO is pleased to report that their systems are continuing to process 2011 income tax returns within the expected schedules. They have not experienced any major difficulties or delays. This correlates to the lack of negative feedback that we have received from members.

We stressed to the ATO that our members are continuing to face difficulties with the Tax Agents Portal, predominantly being unable to log in or the system crashing. The ATO advised that the Tax Agents Portal has only experienced "intermittent" outages in recent days.

We encourage members who have experienced more than what they consider "intermittent" outages to contact us with precise details of their difficulties. Useful details include: the time of day, length of time that you were unable to access the Portal, any error messages that you received (screen shots are particularly useful), the type of functions/reports that were unavailable. We also advise members to ensure that there are no other technology problems that could be affecting your access (i.e. please confirm with your internet service provider that they are not experiencing outages and/or high traffic). If you have evidence of your problems accessing the Portal, please contact us at Tax Policy.

We also remind members that the ATO has a technical help desk which may be of assistance. You can contact them via telephone 1300 139 373 (7.00am-midnight on weekdays) or via . 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:

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 26 July, we have issued current year refunds with a value over $2 billion. 

Of concern

  • Reiterating the message from previous weeks, 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.

ATO system access

  • The ATO notes there have been some intermittent issues with system access, including the portal. It is recommended that an agent experiencing an issue firstly tries a further log-in attempt. Ongoing issues should be reported to the ATO’s helpdesk on ph1300 139 373.

ATO alert on fraudulent payment summaries

The ATO has advised the professional bodies that they have observed an increase in the number of people approaching tax practitioners to lodge income tax returns providing a fraudulent payment summary, as compared to July 2010. The payment summaries typically have excessive tax withheld reported in comparison to income shown. The ATO advises tax agents that if they become aware of this behaviour, they are advised to decline to prepare and lodge the income tax return. To report this behaviour to the ATO, call on the Tax Evasion Reporting Centre on 1800 060 062 or fax 1800 804 544.

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