Wednesday, 3 May 2017

I can see Tax Time from here!

The media coverage suggests it is going to be an ugly experience this year!  This is primarily because the ATO computer systems are having trouble getting up to date and after:

  • Census Fail; and
  • the Centrelink roboNotice fiasco

no-one has any confidence in the Government computing systems.

I have had a couple of perceived needs to find out some stuff about elements of the tax system in the last few days and have found that the online systems didn't obviously offer that which I needed.

So I rang ATO - expecting a massive delay in getting through.  On both occasions I got through reasonably quickly (at least on a par with banks or insurance companies).  Also on both occasions the folk who took my call were very good and resolved my enquiries in a single call.  So ATO frontline staff get a big bouquet!

However in both cases the computer systems seemed to be somewhere from which "average" could only be spotted with the help of the Siding Springs observatory!

My first request was for list of payments, over a number of years, to a superannuation account. I would have thought this was a fairly basic and standard request.   However, rather than simply hit a button and generate a report to come to me by email that information had to be read out by the ATO person.  We got there in the end but efficiency didn't spring readily to my mind.

The second request was to try to get a copy of last year's Tax Assessment Notice, of which I couldn't locate the hard copy.  I had an email from ATO inviting me to login in to the ATO to work a number of wonders including view notices of assessment.  I clicked the button and after the usual drivel with MyGov got in to the ATO site.  There was a fairly straightforward path to the personal income tax area but I couldn't find anything that delivered me a copy of the Assessment. Thus a phone call was made.

During the call I logged back in to the ATO site and the tax staffer agreed that he couldn't find a link to Assessment Notices there either.  However he did find it!  The sequence that needed to be followed was:

  1. click a button on the ATO site to take one back to My Gov;
  2. this gets to a page called services (featuring the ATO, but ignore that);
  3. find a button on that page marked Home, and click that;
  4. this takes you to a page with about 5 buttons, one of which is "Inbox";
  5. Click on that and there is a link to a PDF copy of last years Assessment!

I commented to the ATO guy that this was the least intuitive process I have ever seen.  While it does support the view that Tax time this year is going to be chaotic, my suspicion is that there is no chance at all of the system getting improved by July (not even July 2020).

So ATO computing systems get a brickbat, and MyGov gets two or three brickbats - all loaded with the brown and smelly!

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