Technology

ATO under fire as myGov, myTax site problems prevent lodging of returns

Angry taxpayers have slammed the Australian Tax Office's poor preparation for tax time as "systems issues" continue to prevent them lodging tax returns three days into the new financial year.

The ATO apologised via Twitter for the problems which people said included the myTax and myGov sites running at a snail's pace, conking out on them just as they were about to lodge a completed return, or simply not loading at all.

Website problems are plaguing the tax office at tax time – and not for the first time.
Website problems are plaguing the tax office at tax time – and not for the first time. Photo: Gabriele Charotte

An ATO spokesperson told Fairfax Media on Friday that system performance had improved, but conceded some people were still "experiencing slowness" when accessing its online services.

"We're still working around the clock to get everything up to full speed," the spokesperson said.

Taxpayers vented their frustrations on the ATO's Facebook page.
Taxpayers vented their frustrations on the ATO's Facebook page. 

Late on Friday the ATO said the slowness issues would continue over the weekend.

"This will continue over the weekend where we'll have some further system outages in an effort to fix things," it said on its Facebook page. "For those of you who can delay your lodgment, you might have a better experience if you try again after the weekend."

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Our systems are slowly getting back on track, but we know some of you are continuing to have problems. We acknowledge...

Posted by Australian Taxation Office on Thursday, 2 July 2015

One user described the speed in a comment on the ATO's Facebook page as "slower than a continental drift".

Many expressed disbelief that the ATO appeared to be experiencing the same, or similar, issues that plagued its services during tax time last year.

A tax office insider told Fairfax Media there was "extreme frustration and disappointment" internally at the ongoing problems.

"Front line staff are struggling to explain the delays as there is no clear time frame for resolution," the source said.

"Why is it not pressure tested and [sic] have capacity for the well known peaks?

"To have capacity issues after basically forcing everyone to go online is farcical."

The ATO insisted it had been adequately prepared for the increased capacity during tax time.

"The ATO did undertake capacity planning and readiness testing as part of its preparations," the spokesperson said.

"Additional network capacity was configured as a result of these activities."

The spokesperson did not explain why outages and slow speeds were still occurring even after planning, but said the ATO's systems were "improving all the time".

"We encourage those who have been unable to access our systems to try again today," the spokesperson said.

The internal tax office source also told Fairfax Media an overhaul of the ato.gov.au site had been delayed until August as it was "not working".

The ATO spokesperson declined to comment on the matter.

Taxpayers have until October 31 to lodge their tax returns.

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