The website for the Australian Taxation Office has been down for close to 48 hours, affecting all aspects of the online service including lodgments and online portals.
The outage occurred around 2:00pm on Sunday, with the ATO saying at the time the outage was under investigation. It later said a hardware issue was determined to be the cause of the downtime.
Yesterday the ATO stated via Twitter it would be working on the issues overnight, the office’s acting chief information officer Steve Hamilton told SmartCompany the service was still down.
“Specialist technicians have been working through the night to rectify the outages we’ve been experiencing with our systems over the last 24 hours,” Hamilton says.
“At this stage, we are working towards restoring critical systems such as the Tax Agent Portal by lunchtime today. We are also confident that ATO.gov.au will be available later today.”
Hamilton says the issues causing the downtime are not caused by “any external factors” and stresses no taxpayer information has been compromised.
The “longest outage” one expert can recall in years
Chartered accountant at Allied Accountants David McKellar told SmartCompany the outage was the longest he’d experienced in the past few years.
“It’s quite common for the service to go down, but normally for only an hour or so,” McKellar says.
“This is definitely the longest outage I can recall in the past few years, it’s been really reliable for quite a while.”
Many unhappy Australians took to social media to inquire about the outage, seeking any news from the ATO.
Could somebody from the @ato_gov_au please explain why the website cannot be accessed yet again today. I am on a deadline and need access.
— Tommy Ravlic (@TRAVLIC) December 12, 2016
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However, some users took the opportunity to commend the ATO’s overall service, with one Facebook comment writer saying, “Without the Tax Agent Portal we are reminded of how lucky we are to actually have such a great service!!!”
Many also took the opportunity to liken the downtime to the infamous census crash experienced by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in August.
Downtime unlikely to affect SMEs
Despite the extended downtime, McKellar says the outage is unlikely to affect many SMEs at this time of the year.
“There’s no BAS or IAS lodgment deadlines coming up soon, so it’s not the worst time it could happen,” he says.
“However there will be a lot of accountants madly trying to get jobs done before firms close for Christmas.”
McKellar says the impact of the outage displays the success of the ATO’s online services.
“In the early days the service went down all the time, but it has been fairly reliable over recent years,” he says.
“The more reliable it becomes, the more dependent we are on it, so that’s why everyone’s feeling the impact now.”