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Accounting professionals will be hard-pressed to seek compensation for the ATO’s online outages because the tax office is the sole operator in the space, says one document provider.
BMR Corporate Solutions managing director Mark Ratcliff said the ATO’s digital failures have placed tax agents at a disadvantage but believes the tax office will refuse to address calls for compensation.
“Unfortunately for accounting professionals I doubt there will ever be any type of compensation,” Mr Ratcliff said.
“The issue here is that the ATO is a government run operation. The ATO refers to tax agents and ultimately all taxpayers as customers.
“If I had results which were similar to the ATO, my clients would leave,” he added.
“[But] there is only one ATO.”
Mr Ratcliff said the list of issues were long - from being unable to lodge via the new Practitioner Lodgement Service (PLS) to being unable to access the tax agent’s portal at all - causing inconvenience and a loss in productivity in his work as a tax agent.
“I doubt there will be anything to come from the ATO besides reminders for clients to pay overdue amounts, reminders that the elusive 85 per cent lodgement requirement applies and reminders from the ATO that using underperforming digital by default solutions is the future,” said Mr Ratcliff.
His frustration has been shared by the IPA’s senior tax adviser Tony Greco, who has backed South Australian Senator Nick Xenophon’s plans to take the ATO’s ongoing digital downtime issues through the Senate estimates process.
“It’s reached a point where the profession doesn’t even want anything sophisticated anymore, just something with robust functionality 24/7 would keep people more than happy,” said Mr Greco.
“We don’t have an alternative - it’s the ATO. If you’ve got an internet provider that’s not delivering, you can just change, but we can’t do that with the ATO. It’s monopolistic. You can’t go anywhere else, and you’re stuck.
“All we want is reliable, robust systems that don’t deliver hiccups, because we have had a bad history that has cost our industry and profession a lot in opportunities.”