The ATO remains committed to ensuring the ongoing stability, availability and resilience of our IT systems for Tax Time 2017 and into the future.
The issues we have encountered with our systems over the past few weeks highlight the sheer size, scale, and complexity of the ATO’s IT environment. We continue to examine the triggers and cause of these issues and this analysis is informing the ongoing remediation work we are undertaking. We can confirm recent events have not been related to our storage area network (SAN), but have been caused by other hardware or mainframe issues, and sometimes simply human error.
The ATO systems report released in June identified key areas for improvement around our IT design and governance, response and remediation work, and the business impact on stakeholders.
While we are doing everything we can to minimise the risk of being exposed to systems incidents in the future and the resulting impact these incidents have on our stakeholders, we do anticipate there may be some further minimal disruption to our services as we continue work to implement the IT improvements identified in the report.
We acknowledge the more regular nature of these incidents recently continues to impact on those stakeholders – tax practitioners, the superannuation industry and digital service providers – who rely on the availability of our systems to run their business.
We are working to minimise any inconvenience of these issues and importantly, provide certainty around the assistance and support available from the ATO should they be unable to meet their tax obligations through no fault of their own.
We understand that tax practitioners, their clients and other taxpayers have been struggling to catch up and meet the various lodgment requirements related to tax.
Tax practitioners and taxpayers will not be disadvantaged by the impacts of our system issues. To ensure that there is no disadvantage, where possible, we will be remitting automatically or not imposing penalties for failure to lodge on time related to the late lodgment of 2015-16 income tax returns and activity statements due to be lodged from December 2016, where they are lodged by 31 August 2017.
These arrangements will be put in place automatically – tax practitioners, their clients and other taxpayers do not need to contact the ATO.
Results from Tax Time 2017 give us confidence that we are on the right track and in large part, the systems are working as expected. We have already received over 700,000 income tax lodgments from individuals and tax agents this tax time and issued over $500 million in refunds.
We will continue to keep the community informed of our progress to implement areas of improvement identified in the ATO systems report.