“A diabolical joke”: SMEs start 2017 with heavy workloads as the ATO works to restore online services after month of troubles


The Australian Taxation Office spent the festive period working to restore its online systems after a massive outage in December, taking services offline as recently as this weekend to perform critical maintenance.

However, the ongoing service interruptions are continuing to take a toll on business owners who are returning to work with the prospect of having to catch up on work that should have been completed in December.

On December 11 the tax office suffered a major outage of its systems that threw accountants and tax agents into chaos in the final weeks of trading for the year. Technicians spent the following weeks working to restore a petabyte worth of systems information, data and software, while some business owners were forced to push back their Christmas closures due to the inability to file their clients’ information.

As part of the process, two planned outages of all systems have recently been undertaken, the most recent of which beginning at 10:00pm on Friday, January 6, and ending on the morning of Sunday, January 8. During this time all online services and phone lines were shut down, with the tax office notifying customers that “there will be further work required, and intermittent disruptions can be expected during this time”.

“The performance of our core services such as the website and portals continue to improve and we are bringing other functions and tools back online every day,” the ATO said in an update to clients on January 3.

November quarterly Business Activity Statements were originally due on December 21, but clients were assured by the ATO that no individual would be disadvantaged by the outages. A new date of January 10 was set for those unable to file their details in time.

However, business owners and individuals remain tense in the face of continued maintenance works, with some complaining that the business portal did not come back online for them on Sunday morning, as promised, and that issues, which have now persisted for close to a month, are adding to workloads at the start of a new year.

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

“Instead of hashing old architecture, get proper experts in who know there stuff and rebuild this from the ground up so it actually services the people. Remember, it’s our money earned in tax that’s paying for your existence!!,” said one user on Facebook.

Others have complained this morning that they are still having difficulty making voluntary HELP debt repayments and completing their details for Departing Australia Superannuation Payments (DASP).

While some have expressed sympathy to the hardworking ATO technical staff, others have said the absence of notifications that a system isn’t actually online has wasted their time by allowing them to input data only to be unable to submit it.

“Here’s my advice: for all the features that DO NOT WORK there should be a notice on the web page saying “system down – this feature is not available” so that people don’t go through the pointless task of trying to complete whatever it is they are trying to do,” suggested another user on Facebook.

The ATO told clients this morning that the weekend’s maintenance is complete and all services are now available. Users facing issues or with concerns about filing information on time have been advised via social media to phone to ATO for assistance.

Users can find out information about planned outages and system glitches via this link.

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5 years ago

This is absolutely true. I haven’t been able to log in DASP online application system since last December. I can’t help thinking they are disturbing to apply because they can take 95% of tax from temporally residence’s superannuation from this July.
Thank you Emma for writing this article.

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