ATO systems crash in tax time refund rush

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ATO systems crash in tax time refund rush

Agency urgently investigating outage.

The Australian Taxation Office’s citizen-facing online services crashed on the first day of the new financial year, as people rushed to submit tax returns and take a second bite at the government’s early release super scheme.

Problems with ATO Online - the agency’s online services platform for individuals, which is accessible via the myGov portal - emerged early on Wednesday morning, with the first users experiencing issues just after midnight.

Users reported receiving error messages that either stated that the site was “currently experiencing technical difficulties” or that it was “currently experiencing a high volume of traffic”, which iTnews has replicated.

Other attempts to access ATO Online through myGov were met with an error message that read “the ATO system has encountered any [sic] unexpected error while processing your request” and to “try again”.

The ATO acknowledged "delays accessing our online systems" through its social media channels just before 11:30am.

A spokesperson told iTnews the issues were caused by people attempting to lodge their tax return or apply for the early release of super.

“We are aware that people trying to lodge their tax return or an application for early release of super are currently experiencing issues with our system,” the spokesperson said.

“We are investigating this as a priority, and our technicians are working to resolve the issue. 

“If you are experiencing issues, there's no need to call and report it. We appreciate your patience at this time.”

Later on Wednesday, the ATO said the "disruption was the result of a small component failure, which has reduced the capacity for processing these matters".

"We have identified the area of the system that has failed and are in the process of replacing this component as quickly as possible," it said in a statement.

"As our technicians work to fix the issue, we have temporarily reduced the number of people who can access our online services for individuals.

"This means some users are still able to access our online services without issue, others have received a message asking them to try again later.

"In the lead up to this tax time, we conducted extensive testing and bolstered the capacity of our digital systems in anticipation of significant demand for our services."

Wednesday was the first day that individuals experiencing hardship as a result of the coronavirus pandemic could withdraw a second $10,000 from their superannuation under the government’s early access scheme.

The hardship scheme, which was introduced in late March, allows Australians to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation in the 2019-20 financial year, and a further $10,000 in 2020-21, without paying tax on the amount.

Last week, the ATO revealed a new ‘COVID-19 Economic Response Support 2020’ data matching program to to crackdown on inappropriate access to the government’s early access superannuation and JobKeeper schemes.

The matching program will match the data of more than 3 million people to find cases where individuals have have used the scheme as a tax dodge, by contributing money to their super at a reduced tax rate before withdrawing it.

Updated Thursday July 2

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