Hard-up Australian Tax Office says it can't afford long-service gifts

The Australian Taxation Office says it is too broke to afford gifts for workers who have given it two decades of service.

The ATO has a system that recognises staff leaving after 20 years or more with the office, with a gift worth up to $300 as a token of appreciation for their years of effort.

But senior managers were told last week that the tradition will be history from July 1.

Fairfax revealed on Thursday that Commissioner of Taxation Chris Jordan is building plush offices for himself and his closest deputies on the top floor of the office's Latitude East building in Sydney's CBD.

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About 50 rank-and-file employees have been given their marching orders to accommodate the renovations and look likely to be sent 25 kilometres west to Parramatta.

Money was also found last week to fund dozens more redundancies as the cash-strapped ATO looks to cut 900 jobs by the end of June.

Nearly 2200 ATO staff are jostling for just a few hundred places in the redundancy program. The extra packages came as a welcome pre-Easter surprise for up to 100 tax officials who feared they would miss out on a golden handshake. But those workers departing after 20 years or more at their desks, should not expect a keepsake from their bosses.

In a memo sent out last week to senior tax managers around the country, ATO human resources chief Jacqui Curtis said there was not enough money for gifts for the departing veterans.

Instead, the nation's long-serving tax officials will get ''a framed recognition of service certificate'' after 20 years of service.

They will also be offered a small presentation ceremony with light refreshments for themselves and their colleagues. For those with 10 to 19 years of toil under their belts,

there will be a letter. ''As a result of a recent review, it was agreed that, from 1 July, 2014, separation gifts will be removed as a rewards and recognition option, to be replaced with an increase in the range of opportunities available to recognise high performance,'' Ms Curtis wrote.

''Given this high cost, and the associated administrative burden, it has been decided that employees leaving the ATO under a VR [voluntary redundancy] process with 20 years of service, or more, will now receive: a framed recognition of service certificate [and] the opportunity to be presented with their certificate at a site presentation ceremony, with light refreshments provided.

'' Employees with 10-19 years of service will receive a recognition of service letter.''



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