Monday, February 28, 2011

About those Tax Office computer problems...

The report of an eight-month investigation into the Tax Office computer meltdown that last year delayed millions of returns is gathering dust in the in-tray of Assistant Treasurer Bill Shorten.

Commissioned in April to take heat off the government in the lead-up to the election the report was delivered to Mr Shorten office three months ago on December 3.

A Senate estimates hearing has been told the Assistant Treasurer is not required to release it until July 6, which as independent Senator Nick Xenophon quipped, "is a new tax year".

At the peak of the problem more than one million returns were delayed, taxpayers were sent letters telling them refunds had been paid into their accounts when the Tax Office had no account details and letters were sent referring to enclosed cheques which were not enclosed.

Fifty per cent over budget and behind time the new $800 million Tax Office computer system replaced more than 180 systems, some more than three decades old. It sent unintelligible data to agencies such as Centrelink and was unable to interpret negative numbers.

Tax Commissioner Michael D'Ascenzo has seen the report... and at the Senate hearing twice declined to answer when asked whether the Taxation Inspector General Ali Noroozi had treated him fairly, saying that was "for others to judge".

A spokesman for the Assistant Treasurer said he would table the report "in the not too distant future".

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