The Tax Office said to ask a tax professional or its virtual assistant Alex rather than call the body during its busiest time of the year.
Don’t call us! ATO tells agents, just go online
The ATO has cautioned taxpayers and tax professionals to use its online tools and virtual assistant rather than call the office during its busiest time of the year.
The Tax Office said the easiest and quickest way for taxpayers and agents to resolve their queries would be through their digital self-help tools and virtual assistant Alex.
ATO chief service delivery officer David Allen said now was the office’s busiest time and rather than waiting in a queue to speak to someone, people should use the online tools instead.
“We get lots of calls from the community about topics that can be easily resolved through our digital self-help tools, so it may be better to not wait in a queue to speak to someone when you can do it yourself, at a time and place that suits you,” said Mr Allen.
“Our website has a wealth of information that you can refer to, including specific pages that explain what’s new this tax time for individuals and tax professionals. There is even a virtual assistant called ‘Alex’ that can help you track down the information you need.”
Mr Allen also recommended the use of the ATO Community space or simply asking a tax professional to get the required information rather than contacting the office directly.
“The other great resource worth checking out is our ATO Community – our online peer to peer platform that allows members of the community to ask and share information about tax and super issues with other community members,” he said.
“With more than 117,000 members involved and over 225,000 posts, it’s likely your query has already been answered.”
“If you use a tax professional, they will also be able to help you with questions you may have.”
Mr Allen’s advice comes after the ATO warned taxpayers and their agents to hold off lodging their tax returns to avoid increased wait times and amendments needing to be made to returns.
The ATO said last year more than 140,000 individuals had their returns amended before assessment because they had jumped the gun to lodge in early July and it urged the public to not make the same mistake again.
CPA Australia echoed the Tax Office’s calls for patience when it comes to lodging after its poll found 54 per cent of respondents planned to lodge their return as soon as possible.
Head of policy and advocacy at CPA Australia, Elinor Kasapidis, said the urgency of people wanting to lodge their returns could see an increase in the number of amendments needed to be made.
“It’s possible the ATO is going to see a spike in the number of incorrect returns which need to be amended,” said Ms Kasapidis.
“People are clearly not heeding the advice from the ATO to wait until the pre-fill information has been filled in before lodging their returns.”
“Amending a tax return to correct information that was wrongly submitted can be time consuming and costly. It’s much better to get your return right the first time. Mistakes are easy to make, income statements need to be finalised and you need to ensure you have your receipts in order.”