ATO Meltdown - Processing Delays, etc

ATO Meltdown - Processing Delays, etc

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Many people across the country have been significantly impacted by the ATO’s catastrophic system failure of December 2016.

This has been dramatically worse than the ABS “Census Fail” in August 2016.

Our understanding as at 21 December 2016 is that a massive file deletion or corruption of data occurred on around 11-12 December 2016.  Unusually, and apparently a long way from good business practice, this ‘error’ was replicated to the ATO’s backup.

So the ATO has been working through – very slowly – a massive data recovery process.  This is to put it lightly, as not only has data disappeared but also functionality has been removed.

For example, many tax agents migrated to a new lodgement system (‘PLS’) at the urging of the ATO during 2016 and this system went down with the public website of the ATO (www.ato.gov.au) along with many other systems, including secure websites critically used by tax agent practices to obtain daily correspondence, ‘pre-filling’ data, as well as perform service requests made by clients of our office.

The ATO managed to restore (most of) its public website on or around 14 December 2016, which had the effect of taking most media pressure off the ATO.  But critical systems and processes remain unavailable to 21 December 2016 (so far) and there is still no indication of when services will be restored.

The ATO is undertaking to process ‘refund’ assessments as soon as they can, for tax returns lodged prior to their ‘IT Meltdown’ (with echoes of ‘Census Fail’, but bigger) and for returns lodged via the legacy lodgement platform ELS, which Tax Services Australia still uses, as it remains the most reliable and secure manner of lodging documents with the ATO.

If you have been affected by the delays caused by the ATO, we are afraid there may not be any quick resolution.  This ‘disaster recovery’ is taking longer than expected and it appears it will inevitably run into the ATO’s scheduled closure between 23 December 2016 and 3 January 2017.  We hope that these restoration processes will continue during this time.  Assuming all matters and ATO services will be resolved by Australia Day, our office will endeavour to send all outstanding communications received by then on our return for 2017 on 27 January.

If you have any questions or concerns please just email our office.  Just be aware, that our office might not be able to achieve anything with incapacitated ATO systems.

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