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MEMBER 217 writes:

"We are being inundated with review letters for taxpayers who left Australia years ago. OK, if these people send some money back to Australian banks then fair enough ask questions. But the lack of knowledge about residency rules and the utter waste of time that many of these queries end up causing is driving me nuts. In one such case the people I talked to at the ATO showed little or no knowledge of the actual LAW in regards to these matters. Then they issued an assessment during the period they had given me to gather relevant information. Then it was onto Objections etc. All ended up with the ATO acknowledging the taxpayer was not an Australian resident, but after 18 months of work and over $8,000 in costs, of which I was able to bill $3,000. Even that wasn’t fair for this young man and even less fair for me. 'Ask for compensation' I was told by one ATO officer. Yeah right, that will get me somewhere!

It could all have been avoided if only the original people who are meant to deal with tax agents had even an inkling of knowledge about the subject.

The same is happening with data matching of CGT events. One recent one had the ATO demanding information about a property that was included in the tax return but in an earlier year because the ATO use settlement dates rather than the actual CGT event date. Why don’t they at least check the taxpayer’s returns before sending out these rude pointless data matching letters.

The Commissioner recently stated that he wants to work closely with SMEs etc etc etc.  How about the ATO learn to work more closely with Tax Agents and understand that we are all on the same side rather than being so accusing about our clients?

(Signed) A tax agent who is sick and tired of talking to people at the ATO whose knowledge and skill level is wanting."