Complaints handling

The ATO continued to meet its service commitments to the community.

Under the Taxpayers’ charter, we respect clients' right to make a complaint if they are not satisfied with our decisions, service or actions. The number of complaints received by the ATO was 34,323, or 0.2% of the 17 million income tax returns received for the same period. We resolved 1,744 complaints at the first point of contact.

In 2015–16, 61% of complaints were received in the first half of the financial year with complaint volumes reducing from January 2016. There were two primary issues behind the complaint volumes:

  • form processing and account management; our improved digital services have increased expectations with regard to the timeframes for refund processing, even though we exceeded our performance measures for income tax returns. We took this feedback on board and have been able to reduce overall processing times for standard income tax returns by one day for Tax Time 2016.
  • the Client Register system release in January 2015 caused some unintended delays to ABN and TFN registrations and updates for some clients. These problems have been resolved.

FIGURE 3.2 Top ten complaint issues, 2015–16

FIGURE 3.2 Top ten complaint issues, 2015–16

FIGURE 3.2 Top complaint issues, 2015–16
Form processing 7,627
Registrations 7,310
Account information 4,917
Guidance and information 3,563
Superannuation 2,256
Access to services 1,891
Other 1,835
Debt and payments 1,578
Lodgment and penalties 1,258
People 1,224
Total issues 33,459

NOTE: We received 1,302 complaints between 1 July 2015 and 30 June 2016 from the Inspector-General of Taxation. Of these, 638 were complaints not previously lodged with the ATO and were subsequently transferred back to the ATO’s complaint handling process.

The total number of complaint issues is different to the total number of complaints for the following reasons:

  • a single complaint may include multiple issues
  • a complaint issue may not have been captured
  • this data is not captured for complaints that are resolved when the client first calls us.