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10 Feb 1212 What about the Domestic Financial Crisis (DFC)?

MEMBER 11 writes:

"In the brochure for The Tax Institute's 27th National Convention to be held in Canberra on 14-16 March 2012, the synopsis of an ATO presentation includes the following :

'During the GFC, the ATO took a more lenient approach in the recovery of tax debts. However, post GFC...the inevitable tightening of the ATO collections policy is upon us.'

Can someone please tell the ATO that the GFC is far from over; its draconian attempts at debt collection are doing nothing other than adding greater pressure to an already stressed (and recessed) taxpaying community.

In addition, the ATO is contributing to the creation of our very own DFC, by failing to meet its own benchmarks in the issue of individual assessments; there is then a consequent flow on effect of the failure of Centrelink to issue family tax benefit reconciliation adjustments and lump sum claims. In the main, our experience has been that the taxpayers most affected by this ATO failure are low income earners, who factor tax refunds and FTB assessments into their annual budgets. These are people who spend what money they have, and thus keep the economy moving. Any wonder retailers are crying poor.

According to the ATO stats, the only benchmark that it has failed to achieve by the end of November 2011 is in the issue of individual assessments. The benchmark is 14 days; we have clients who have been waiting six months for the issue of an assessment, for no apparent reason other than the failure of ATO processes. Estimated completion dates are ignored and not updated on client dealings; any attempt to escalate resolution results in further delay as later 'completion dates' are entered into the ATO system by the ATO, which by default permits further unexplained delay. Frustrated clients who ring the ATO are told to talk to their tax agent -  great -  we have no answers - and cannot get them from the ATO - but the implication is that we are somehow at fault.

This is the third year in a row (or is it the fourth?) of inefficient bungling by the ATO - enough is enough!"

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