JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

Australian Tax Office set to quit regional offices

<i> </i>

Photo: Louie Douvis

The Taxation Office looks set to walk away from its presence in regional Australia, flagging the closure of offices in country NSW, Victoria, Tasmania and Queensland.

Leases on the 10 regional offices, part of a network established in the overhaul of the tax system in 2000, are on the chopping block with about 80 workers likely to face a choice between relocation or redundancy.

The Canberra Times revealed last month that the ATO has nearly 4700 empty desks in its workplaces across Australia - one empty work space for every five employees - and the cash-strapped department has made no secret of its desire to cut costs.

The 10 offices now under the microscope have 177 desks but only 80 staff and all the leases will expire this year.

The ATO's Bundaberg office closed its doors this month, with three employees taking redundancy, and the axe fell in December on Tax Office buildings in Hurstville in Sydney's south and Southport on Queensland's Gold Coast.

An internal ATO document, the Draft Regional Service Delivery Project, indicates the department's bosses see little value in keeping the regional network.

"There is not a close or logical alignment between current site presence and areas of perceived high risk or non-compliance," the document reads.

According to the report, modern technology means that services can be delivered to the regions more cheaply and efficiently than having offices open in big country towns.

"Technological advancements have led to a situation where the provision of education and assistance to people can increasingly be delivered effectively via telephone, mobile devices and internet-based solutions," it says.

"Many elements of active compliance can also be carried out remotely and a large proportion of active compliance activity is now desk based.''

The Tax Office says that no final decisions have been made on the future of the offices in Port Macquarie, Sale, Mackay, Bendigo, Rockhampton, Launceston, Cairns, Orange, Toowoomba and Grafton and that more consultation will be held in February.

But unions are unhappy with the process with the Australian Services Union saying the livelihoods of ATO workers are being left in limbo by their bosses' slow decision-making process.

"So the ATO has again left an issue which affects the livelihood and careers of 80 staff to the last moment," ASU official Jeff Lapidos said. "Perhaps the rationale in denying a decision has been made is to reduce the likelihood of organised resistance.

"It is difficult to understand."

Mr Lapidos said the Taxation Office, as a national organisation, had a duty to maintain a presence in regional Australia.

"The ATO has offices in each capital city because it is a national organisation with national responsibilities," he said.

"The real question is whether the commissioner is prepared to invest in the ATO's regional responsibilities.

"The answer would appear to be no."

32 comments

  • Out of sight out of mind. Expect voluntary compliance from country taxpayers to drop to frightening levels. Tony Abbott is giving a greenlight for the cheats to prosper - not to mention the loss of services to the regions.

    Commenter
    Chris
    Date and time
    January 20, 2014, 8:39AM
    • Don't think so, the tax office has been driving toward an electronic future for some years. Tax queries and answers may just keep the much touted NBN alive!

      Commenter
      e-tax
      Location
      yarra valley
      Date and time
      January 20, 2014, 9:08AM
    • Yes, instead of closing these offices the ATO perhaps should open one in your front room if the problem is as you see it...

      Commenter
      Doctor
      Date and time
      January 20, 2014, 9:26AM
    • None of these workers are involved in field audits, so how will the revenue suffer ?????

      Commenter
      The Village Idiot (Reformed)
      Date and time
      January 20, 2014, 1:23PM
  • Excellent idea!

    Commenter
    Sharron
    Location
    Canberra
    Date and time
    January 20, 2014, 9:45AM
    • Yes, in this current 'doublespeak' government, this is 'a unique opportunity to promote regional development'.
      Quite rightly, costs can be saved by centralising, so why not centralise to one regional location where costs will be much less than a capital city. Or will the centralised office be located in Mumbai and staffed by persons on a few daollars per day.

      Commenter
      bg2
      Date and time
      January 20, 2014, 11:54AM
    • Yes one term Tony will have a million people out of work in his first year. Great!!!

      Commenter
      Get Real
      Date and time
      January 20, 2014, 12:45PM
  • Hmm, wait and see if the reduction in public servants is a hindrance or a blessing I say.
    # You public servants need to remember that the Australian people don't owe you a job.

    Humans have existed for thousands of years without regional tax collection offices.

    ## Hmm, but if it upsets you then how about you pool the $3bn that is sitting in union bank accounts across Aus and you use it to keep a regional office open !
    What's that you reply 'All that money is for protecting jobs'. Well, it seems to me that the only people benefiting from paying those union fees are fat cats in the labored party.

    Commenter
    Alex
    Location
    Finley
    Date and time
    January 20, 2014, 9:52AM
    • Well said Alex, maybe Labor can make an offer for Holden with their billions and save some jobs,but that won't happen because then would have to screw them self .

      Commenter
      justone
      Location
      oz
      Date and time
      January 20, 2014, 11:22AM
    • The way this clown is going he will have his one million jobs cut by the end of his first and only term. Or did we hear him wrong!!!

      Commenter
      Get Real
      Date and time
      January 20, 2014, 12:44PM

More comments

Comments are now closed

Related Coverage

Featured advertisers

Special offers

Credit card, savings and loan rates by Mozo