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Wednesday, 23 August 2017

The Australian Tax Office (ATO) has revealed 10 previously unreported IT outages in 2017 in information provided to a Senate committee. However the outages appear not to have been reported on the ATO’s usual online systems updates pages.

Media reports say the outages have led to a new round of protests from tax professionals and calls for compensation.

The outages are in addition to previously reported major ATO outages in December and July and were contained in logs of ATO outages provided to the Senate Economics Committee in the ATO’s written reply to questions from Senate Estimates hearings in May.
Some of the 10 outages recorded between January and June lasted for up to two days, while others lasted just eight minutes.

In February, the ATO's website, online portals, Australian Business Register and business reporting channels were unavailable for two business days, while a series of outages hit users on April 19 and four separate dates in May.

The ATO's acting chief operations officer Frances Cawthra told the ABC that more than $5 billion has already been returned to Australians — more than at this stage last year — despite the technical glitches. "The systems are working; however we are certainly not trying to make light of the frustration our stakeholders have experienced over the last few months," she said.
Tax commissioner Chris Jordan has raised concerns about the ongoing glitches damaging the reputation of the ATO in the industry.

The Tax Institute's chief executive Noel Rowland said the frequency of IT problems at the ATO was concerning. "I can understand the calls for compensation given the disruption to practices.

What's critically important is that no-one is any worse off as a result of the outage," he said.
"Agents rely very heavily on access to that system to lodge returns, to make queries, to look up balances, and so when they're down, it's really disruptive to their work."

The tax office has already said it will waive some late penalties for those unable to lodge their tax returns.

Ms Cawthra said she understands the frustrations and the ATO will consider compensation claims. "We do have a Commonwealth scheme and details of that are available on our website — we do understand the impact," she said.

Labor frontbenchers Andrew Leigh and Ed Husic called for an investigation into the IT problems, raising concerns about staffing cuts. "The ATO is trying as hard as it can, but it's been left struggling thanks to staffing cuts by the Coalition," Mr Leigh said.

In July the ATO launched an investigation into a significant failure of online systems which forced tax return systems offline at short notice.

A report on the major pre-Christmas outages blamed multinational Hewlett Packard and stressed fibre optic cables for the chaos.


Click below to view source

ABC: Tax office reveals more website outages as calls for compensation grow

Twitter: Official ATO Twitter page

Fairfax Media: Calls for an inquiry as 10 further ATO outages revealed

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