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Moscow on the Molonglo. Inside the ATO

By johnboy - 10 March 2013 17

Dianne Gray has blogged at length about the kafkaesque nightmare of the Australian Taxation Office.

It’s only one side of the story, but quite a read.

What’s Your opinion?


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17 Responses to
Moscow on the Molonglo. Inside the ATO
Auntyem 10:19 am 12 Mar 13

schmeah said :

Auntyem said :

I have updated my post about the ATO code of conduct charge after receiving an ‘anonymous’ response in my comments section from the ATO. http://diannegray.wordpress.com/2013/03/12/response-from-the-ato-anon/

Let us know if you hear back about this breach of your privacy, though given the labyrinthine nature of the bureaucracy in sorting out their own house, I guess it’ll be a couple of years.

I’ll let you know if they get back to me. I’m sure ‘anon’ isn’t feeling very comfortable at the moment. What a silly thing to do…

Auntyem 10:18 am 12 Mar 13

schmeah said :

Auntyem said :

I have updated my post about the ATO code of conduct charge after receiving an ‘anonymous’ response in my comments section from the ATO. http://diannegray.wordpress.com/2013/03/12/response-from-the-ato-anon/

Let us know if you hear back about this breach of your privacy, though given the labyrinthine nature of the bureaucracy in sorting out their own house, I guess it’ll be a couple of years.

I’ll let you know if they get back to me. I’m sure ‘anon’ isn’t feeling very comfortable at the moment. What a silly thing to do…

schmeah 10:06 am 12 Mar 13

Auntyem said :

I have updated my post about the ATO code of conduct charge after receiving an ‘anonymous’ response in my comments section from the ATO. http://diannegray.wordpress.com/2013/03/12/response-from-the-ato-anon/

Let us know if you hear back about this breach of your privacy, though given the labyrinthine nature of the bureaucracy in sorting out their own house, I guess it’ll be a couple of years.

Auntyem 7:52 am 12 Mar 13

I have updated my post about the ATO code of conduct charge after receiving an ‘anonymous’ response in my comments section from the ATO. http://diannegray.wordpress.com/2013/03/12/response-from-the-ato-anon/

schmeah 6:01 pm 11 Mar 13

This is the same agency which awarded a cleaning contract to an enterprise that had a long history of financial mismanagement in other states and territories and was, fiscally speaking, clinging to life. Hence, when the cleaners started they didn’t get paid for X number of weeks by their employer (the contractor – can’t remember the name). From memory the cleaning staff went close to 4 weeks without pay. (Imagine not being paid for close to a month as a public servant & then imagine not being paid the bread crumbs you earn as a cleaner).

The whole scenario is made worse if you make the assumption that being awarded a cleaning/maintenance contract for a major agency is kind of a big deal and would probably have undergone a competitive tender process .. makes you wonder sometimes.

Affirmative Action M 4:32 pm 11 Mar 13

Unfortunately in the bureacracy once one person makes a stuff up (The HR Determining Officer) line management finds it almost impossible to overturn & instead of doing the obvious thing & telling them they are a knob they just keep promulgating the blunder up the line.

milkman 3:44 pm 11 Mar 13

Dilandach said :

Ohhh the nightmares of ATO IT I could tell….

+ heaps. The place is laughably out of control.

Dilandach 2:40 pm 11 Mar 13

Ohhh the nightmares of ATO IT I could tell….

Seen the movie ‘Brazil’? You have? Man, I’ve lived it.

HiddenDragon 11:22 am 11 Mar 13

I can’t help but wonder whether part of the problem here is that APS internal management policies and procedures have become too cumbersome and complex. Combine that with the all-too-common tendency to backside-covering, managing upwards and an “I don’t care, I just work here…” attitude, and you get horror stories like this, and the many others which could no doubt be told.

Ben_Dover 10:28 am 11 Mar 13

wildturkeycanoe said :

Getting help from either over the phone is impossible. No wonder accountants are becoming the norm for doing tax returns.

Anyone not using an accountant to do their tax return is giving away money to the taxman.

(I use Matt at Sleigh PLC, damn good chap.)

Thumper 10:10 am 11 Mar 13

I had my own problems with the ATO a few years ago.

I’m not sure that I’ve ever dealt with a more disfunctional place.

A place where no-one takes responsibility for anything and logic is a completely foreign concept.

wildturkeycanoe 8:45 am 11 Mar 13

I just love how the tax brackets and thresholds work. They can adjust your taxable income by a few hundred dollars 2 years after doing a return, then because you go over a threshold you get stung by twice what the adjustment was. They don’t talk to Centrelink, Centrelink doesn’t talk to them and because of this people have to get a degree in mathematics to work out how each affects the other in their return. Why, when two government departments refer to each other in such detail on their websites and documentation, do they not have internal links to verify payments made so that mum and dad don’t get stung due to an error in interpreting the myriad of complex calculations and lack of specific information?
Getting help from either over the phone is impossible. No wonder accountants are becoming the norm for doing tax returns.

Auntyem 8:30 am 11 Mar 13

Thanks so much for posting this Johnboy. The entire ordeal was a nightmare. The MPC ended up writing a 7 page scathing report regarding the entire process and how it was ‘managed’ (for want of a better word’) by the ATO. I wanted to share it as well, but it names names and I was advised by the ATO that if this story was published I could not name names. I can send it to you if anyone is interested, but the names need to come out.

As far as I’m concerned the $32.50 they paid me was a win. I’m pretty sick of hearing about the ATO spending hundreds of thousands (of our tax dollars) on fighting (and losing) court battles due to their stuff-ups. We need a Tax Office that spends our dollars on roads, schools and hospitals. Because this process lasted two years I’m sure the amount of money spent on it (in wages) would have easily run into the tens of thousands.

One of the things I did during this process was to search Riotact for other people’s stories about Code of Conduct, so I thought it would be handy to have this here in case anything like this happens to anyone else.

54-11 12:06 am 11 Mar 13

As you say, JB, that is one side of the story, but I assume that she has presented it truthfully. What a disgrace the ATO is.

LSWCHP 8:36 pm 10 Mar 13

I hired a young software engineer back in 2005 who’d been at the ATO for about a year after graduation. He told me one of his main reasons for leaving was that he couldn’t tolerate the lack of engineering rigor and proper processes in their software development activities. Given the nature of what the ATO does, I thought this was astounding. He’s a great guy, so I trust that what he said was correct at the time.

This poor woman endured an appalling experience, and it sounds like they could do with the addition of some rigor and proper processes in other areas of the department as well. I think an apology is in order.

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