Fresh face for tax office

THE embattled Australian Tax Office could be looking to the cosmetics counter to sort out its ailing client relations, including dealings with taxpayers.

Having been at the centre of debate over the GST, the ATO now must deal with a large number of personal investors, following the recent debate over tax effective investment schemes.

Federal Labor Treasury spokesman Kelvin Thomson has put a number of questions to the Treasurer Peter Costello regarding research contracts to overhaul the ATO’s public interface.

One contract allegedly is with Andersen Consulting and will comprise a wide ranging overhaul of the ATO’s client relations, including dealings with taxpayers. The second, a $90,000 contract allegedly awarded to Minter Research, will review ATO relations with non-business clients.

ATO corporate relations was unwilling to make any comment on the alleged contracts.

Minter Research suggested any questions should be addressed to the ATO.

Manager of marketing and communications at Andersen Consulting, or Accenture as it’s now known, Simon Bush, said the senior partner who manages the ATO business was unaware of any such project.

“It doesn’t seem to fit in with the work we’re doing,” Mr Bush said.

Problems associated with the introduction of the GST, including the administration of the new tax for small businesses, may have put significant pressure on staff handling calls from members of the public in the past 12 months.

It would seem concern about how these enquires have been dealt with has prompted the ATO to invest in sprucing up its public interface.

The Taxpayers Charter, introduced in 1997, outlines taxpayers’ rights under the law and the standards people can expect when dealing with the ATO.

It also explains what taxpayers course of action is if they are unhappy with the way their enquiry is handled or if they are not satisfied with the ATO’s decision.

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