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ATO awards itself green ticks for performance


Self-imposed targets suggest an overall pass mark, although on some metrics it has gone backwards.

By Philip King3 minute read

The ATO has given itself green ticks against 11 out of 16 benchmarks in its latest performance update and fail marks against only three.


The report card, which deals with a variety of metrics around response and wait times for calls, lodgement processing as well as how the ATO handles complaints and delays, suggests long waits on the phone are the exception rather than the rule.

Against one key benchmark – how quickly calls from tax practitioners are answered during the July to October tax time – the ATO set a target of “within two minutes” and achieved its goal of 90 per cent.

However, call volumes were down substantially compared with the previous year, with 453,917 calls picked up by the benchmark in 2021 against 648,949 in 2020.

Tax practitioners fare better than general callers though, where the average wait time to the end of May is nine minutes 18 seconds.

One clear area of substandard performance concerns superannuation guarantee employee notification cases, with a 60 per cent finalisation target within four months and 90 per cent within nine months.

The figures to the end of May came in at 47 and 74 per cent respectively, with the ATO duly giving itself a failure mark.

Another red cross singled out its response to electronic taxpayer requests, with just 85 per cent finalised within 15 business days against a target of 90 per cent – a mark it exceeded last year.

However, in other respects the ATO’s investments in electronic lodgement capability appear to be paying off, with big green ticks against processing times.

For 2021-22 electronic tax returns and activity statements, 99 per cent were finalised within 12 business days against a target of 94 per cent. For electronic amendments, 95 per cent were finalised within 20 days against a target of 90 per cent. Both benchmarks and performance figures are virtually unchanged from the prior year.

Communicating delays when they happen was another strong point, with 100 per cent of those with unfinalised electronic tax returns notified within 30 days of receipt.

For private ruling requests that raise “particularly complex matters that will take more than 28 calendar days to resolve after receiving all the necessary information”, the ATO set itself a target of notifying 80 per cent within 14 days and achieved 90 per cent.

The ATO said it “sets performance targets that are intended to be challenging, attainable with effort, affordable and meaningful to you”.

ATO awards itself green ticks for performance
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Philip King

Philip King


Philip King is editor of Accountants Daily and SMSF Adviser, the leading sources of news, insight, and educational content for professionals in the accounting and SMSF sectors.

Philip joined the titles in March 2022 and brings extensive experience from a variety of roles at The Australian national broadsheet daily, most recently as motoring editor. His background also takes in spells on diverse consumer and trade magazines.

You can email Philip on: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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