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ATO outages backlash escalates, opposition and senators intervene

The federal opposition and Senator for South Australia Nick Xenophon have upped pressure on government to address the instability of the ATO’s digital systems.

ATO outages backlash escalates, opposition and senators intervene
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Mr Xenophon is calling on accountants to share their experiences with the ATO’s portals before the Senate estimates process commences in October, in an effort to address the “completely unacceptable” history of instability and unscheduled downtime the professional community is subject to.

Mr Xenophon will also be exploring compensation avenues for accountants who are affected by the persistent outages.

“We need to look at the tax office compensating accountants for the inconvenience. The tax office should be subject to service standards,” Mr Xenophon said.

“Having a statutory compensation scheme for these outages would be a powerful incentive for systems to work and not crash like this.

“If you’re a consumer and there’s an outage, you can get compensation after a certain number of hours with an outage. There needs to be some compensation here that doesn’t exist.”

Shadow assistant treasurer Andrew Leigh is calling on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to commission a meaningful review into the persistent downtime.

“There needs to be a review into the continued outages, backed by Malcolm Turnbull and carried out by the Inspector General of Taxation or another appropriate independent body,” he said.

“We note the Auditor General has flagged a potential review into the IT outages, and would hope the scope and time frame of that inquiry delves into the effects and impact of outages on taxpayers and tax practitioners,” he said.

The IPA has been publicly pushing government agencies to realise the impact of digital instabilities for several years, and has also considered the idea of compensation for affected parties.

“If you continually are suffering losses because of someone else’s poor service delivery, I think you start to say ‘Well, when is enough, enough?’ said the IPA’s Tony Greco.

“Do they deserve something? I think rightly so, but the difficulty is how do you quantify on a per practice basis the quantum of compensation. We understand that that’s the dilemma,” Mr Greco said.

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