Last year I had cause to write to the Australian Taxation office about an adjustment they had made to my tax return. It took six letters before someone from the ATO called me to advise that they could not write to me because they did not recognise me at my home address. They said they would only write to my accountant.
I had written November 2004 proposing a face to face meeting. The telephone call to me was made six months later. The meeting I wanted finally happened last week.
By their admission in the meeting last week, the ATO refused to correspond with me because my home address was not registered for my tax file number. They claimed that the Privacy Act precluded them from writing to my home address and responding to my letters.
There have been several instances where the actions of ATO prove it is not the Privacy Act which precluded them from responding to my letters and my request for a meeting:
1. When called by two officers of the ATO on my mobile phone on two separate occasions no effort whatsoever was made to determine if it was me they were speaking with. Anyone could have answered my phone.
2. When I met with tow officers of the ATO last week, no effort was made to determine if I was who I claimed to be.
3. When I requested an ATO officer change my registered address details while at the ATO office last week no proof was sought that I was who I claimed I was. Indeed when I offered the officer proof of identity his response was that the computer does not require it.
Each of these events makes a mockery of the ATO claim that they did not respond to my six letters because it would be a breach of privacy to write to my home address since it was not the address registered with the ATO. The ATO has demonstrated a systemic disregarded for privacy rules.
As a customer of the ATO I expect at least the courtesy of a response to correspondence.