Taxing times

The oldest son is now of an age where having a tax file number is pretty much mandatory – when trying for holiday employment this is a kinda obvious thing to have sorted out beforehand. Mind you the chances of actually picking anything up now seems slim.

However this brings me to actually GETTING a tax file number.

Once upon a time (a long time ago…) you called the tax office and they gave you a number and send you a nice form telling you what it is.

Now you need to apply. In order to apply you need a special form. The special form can only be obtained by phoning the document delivery service, or using the internet to order it (whereby you need to create an account, register, blah blah blah). And then the form is posted out.

So far, GETTING THE FORM has been a long and frustrating trial. The first attempt at ordering the form showed (2 weeks later) that it was claimed as shipped. Shame it never arrived. The second attempt saw the form arrive just before Christmas.

Time between trying to get the form and being able to fill it out: just a touch under 4 weeks.

Now the fun beginneth. Having filled out the form, one must lodge it. Doing so requires the production of Identification Documents. These are such things as a Passport, a drivers license, a student ID card, a bank statement and so on. All must be original. Copies – not acceptable. They promise to get these things promptly back to you by registered mail. What does “promptly” mean? If the document delivery service is anything to go by – 2 – 4 weeks should be expected. Suppose one were to send in a drivers license… that would make driving illegal while the license was in the hands of the glorious tax office.

Of course, lodgement need not be via post. One could visit a tax office “shopfront”. So… one asks… where is the nearest such shopfront. Unforunately, the glorious ATO web site shows the shopfront locations as “This document is not available on the ATO web site.”

We think we know where it is, and realistically the only way to get the tax file number processed is to do so in person. Sending in the acceptable document is not really acceptable. Trouble is the ATO won’t tell us where to actually go.

This, and my other dealings with the glorious ATO leave me feeling sullied. A bit like the new CEO of the company I worked for many years ago – after a presentation by him I felt unclean, the desire to have a shower and wash away the bullshit was something I’ll never forget. And dealing with the ATO is similar – every interaction – whether by paperwork (BAS ~shudder~) or by trying to use their web site from hell just leaves me feeling as though I’ve dealt with some incomprehensible monster with 17 heads, 43 tails, and no bloody idea.

The similarities abound, with Arthur Dent’s predicament in The Hitch-hikers Guide to The Universe: The information was in a locked drawer of a filing cabinet in a disused basement behind a door marked “beware of the leopard”. Except Arthur had it easier.

One Comment

It’s worth having a chat to your accountant. They have an access pass into the ATO system for expediting some things. While I can’t say for sure this will help with a new TFN, I have had accountants clickety-click something on the spot and saved me a lot of bother in dealing with the ATO.

Comment by Daniel | January 3rd, 2012 12:15 pm | Permalink

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