ATO officially ‘unfair’. That’s according to an ATO report

An ATO survey of self-employed small business people who had been in dispute with the ATO during 2017 has produced an embarrassing result for the ATO. The survey, costing close to $1 million, assessed whether people had been treated fairly by the ATO.

The outcome is damning of the ATO’s treatment of the self-employed. If a private business were to receive results like this, heads would be chopped in the senior management ranks. Such results would demonstrate massive customer dissatisfaction. The business would quickly be out of business.
Of the 670 people surveyed:

  • 36% said that the ATO did not understood their point of view.
  • 51% were not well informed about the progress of their dispute.
  • 26% said that the process was biased and not independent.
  • 45% considered that the time taken for the final decision was unreasonable.
  • 31% considered that the communication was not straightforward or honest.
  • 53% said that the internal discussions were not transparent.

And, most significantly:

  • 61% said that the costs (time, money and resources) were unreasonable.

But the ATO is a monopoly and apparently considers the outcome to be quite good because it’s better than previous surveys.

  • ABC online said: ATO spends $1million on fairness survey, learns lots of us think the tax office is unfair.
  • Smart Company reported: ATO spends nearly $1 million on market research, revealing 46% of Aussies believe its dispute processes are unfair.

This ATO survey confirms that the reports of ATO bad behaviour in the Four Cornersprogram ‘Mongrel Bunch of Bastards’ (9th April)  were highly accurate. The ATO’s unfair behaviour is surely systemic given the survey results.

The survey reinforces the need for major reform of the ATO. We continue to campaign for a dedicated Small Business Tax Tribunal, external to, and independent of, the ATO. This is just one of the reforms that is sorely needed.

Our analysis of the ATO survey and the survey itself (obtained under Freedom of Information) are here.

Ken Phillips and the
Team at Self-Employed Australia