Thieves are targeting financial data to lodge false tax returns. Photo: Michel O'Sullivan
The Tax Office has been hit by a technical issue which prevents people lodging tax returns and accessing other essential government services online.
The issue is related to this year's mandatory requirement for taxpayers to use a myGov login when lodging returns online. The myGov site is a portal the federal government created as a single log-in for all its services.
"We are working with myGov to fix error 5077 in etax," the Tax Office said on its website on Thursday. "We recommend waiting and trying again in a few hours, as too many attempts will lock you out. We appreciate your patience. We will post updates through our Twitter page."
The issues are affecting not only the lodgement of returns, but access to other essential government services that rely on myGov, such as Centrelink, Medicare, Child Support, and e-health records.
"We have been working hard to resolve the intermittent issues with myGov and most customers will today notice an improvement in the service," the Department of Human Services said on Wednesday. "A record number of you are registering for myGov, so we’ll be keeping a close eye on the service today and our technical specialists will keep working hard to fix any ongoing problems."
Despite this, the Tax Office issued another update on Thursday saying the issues were persisting.
In a statement to Fairfax Media, the Tax Office said the issue was only affecting a small number of people.
"More than 99.9 per cent of people are successfully lodging online using e-tax," a Tax Office spokesman sad.
"The ATO is aware that in less than 1 per cent of cases people may experience an ongoing technical issue.
"We are now working to further reduce the instances of this issue. Those experiencing this problem can call the e-tax IT help desk on 1300 1300 17."
Since July 1, 15,705 people have lodged online using e-tax and 12,632 people using myTax, the spokesman said.
Taxpayers have been complaining about the issue on social media. Some say they are being told to mail in their tax returns instead of doing them electronically via e-tax and myGov.
"Would love to get past ‘This site is currently experiencing some technical difficulties. We apologise for this inconvenience. Try again later. If the problem continues contact us on 13 28 61’. After calling that number and being told to just mail it in instead, what's the point of this website again?" wrote Anthony Robertson on the Tax Office's Facebook page.
"This is unacceptable – STILL cannot lodge my return," wrote another Facebook user.
"This system is absolute bull plop!! I can't say I'm surprised at the total mess it is and I'm over the whole myGov lack of help and the mandatory conditions you have put on people making them have a myGov account. It makes me want to never lodge my tax again!" wrote another.
News of the technical issues follows reports the myGov website had a number of security vulnerabilities, most of which have been fixed. The vulnerabilities allowed an independent security expert to hack into any myGov account using a simple exploit.