Tax

ATO services drop out ahead of Christmas break, as SMEs continue to grapple with two-week long outage

Emma Koehn /

The Australian Taxation Office online services have gone offline again on the last day before the organisation’s Christmas shutdown.

At 8:45am this morning the tax agent portal, business portal and central ATO website were unavailable to individuals and businesses, with an error message stating that the portals are either currently under maintenance or “unavailable”.

At 11:30am the websites were back online, however an spokesperson for the tax office told SmartCompany: “We do expect intermittent disruptions over the Christmas and New Year break as we continue to restore our systems”.

Read more: SMEs ask ATO to pay their bills after business portal outage: “You have destroyed Christmas”

The ATO website error message at 9:00am this morning.

The ATO website error message at 9:00am this morning.

On Thursday evening the office notified clients that it would be closing for Christmas shutdown today and reopening on January 3. The message advised visiting the service updates webpage to track progress of the system restoration, however, this morning that link went to an error page.


The tax office experienced a major outage of its services on Sunday, December 11, and has spent the following two weeks working with technicians and its storage provider Hewlett Packard to restore systems from backups.

While limited services were restored earlier this week, tax agents and accountants have told SmartCompany this is the worst outage they have seen and the continued service interruption has come at a cost of thousands.

This morning businesses and individuals expressed frustration about another drop out in the final trading hours before Christmas.

“I would love to check your system update media release, but your website is down again,” said one client on Facebook.

Clients have complained on Twitter this morning that they have been unable to complete transactions, including departing Australian superannuation payments and voluntary HELP repayments.

“Some of our services are unavailable; we’re trying to restore them as soon as we can. We apologise for the inconvenience,” the ATO replied to one individual on Twitter.


The ATO’s chief information officer has consistently assured the public that no individual or business will be disadvantaged by the situation, but members of the public remain stressed about the payment of tax refunds and the strain this has put on accountants in the lead up to the year’s end.

* This article was updated at 11:30am on December 23 to include a statement from the ATO. 

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Emma Koehn

Emma Koehn is SmartCompany's senior journalist.

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