IPA calls for accountability on ATO tech failures

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) needs to be held accountable for the poor functionality of its IT systems which continues to cause pain for members who are bearing the brunt of the failing technologies, according to the Institute of Public Accountants (IPA).

IPA chief executive, Andrew Conway said the institute had heard continual cries of concern from its members who were unable to access necessary operational systems when outages occurred.

“The ATO is doing whatever it can to rectify the failing functionality of its IT systems but apologies do not undo the pain that it is inflicting,” he said.

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“Our members… have suffered ongoing IT issues with the ATO.”

Conway said the IPA would now call on the ATO to formalise an agreement to stop operations “grinding to a halt” when critical systems failed.

“There should be a service commitment from the ATO; an agreement where there are specified and agreed service levels and if those service levels are not met, penalties should apply,” he said.

“This would be akin to arrangements that operate in the commercial world with critical service providers.”

Members of the IPA had begun to call for compensation from the ATO which Conway acknowledged was unnecessary, but said greater accountability was needed as accountants and tax agents remained at the centre of problematic system outages.

“To give context to the significance of this issue, 74 per cent of taxpayers go to a tax agent to look after their affairs and 95 per cent of businesses,” Conway said.

 “Consequently, our members do the heavy lifting and are reliant on the ATO systems to service their clients.

“[They are] subjected to key performance benchmarks when it comes to lodgements so it is not unreasonable to ask that the ATO has its own benchmark to improve accountability around IT service delivery.”

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