Welfare recipients have this year received many automatic debts, dubbed robo-debts, from Centrelink, and are forced to prove it’s a debt they simply do not owe.
The welfare debt scheme has faced mounting concerns from both experts and the general public, and is even set to face a class action led by Gordon Legal, which Bill Shorten announced just last month.
But, while Aussies are no stranger to hearing about Centrelink’s automatic debts, those sent by the Australian Taxation Office have managed to fly under the radar - until now.
“My dad arrived home today to a letter from the taxation department,” AJ Back tweeted.
“A fine of $5,000. For my brother. For not lodging a tax return for five years.”
My dad arrived home today to a letter from the taxation department.— AJ Back 🐢🐢🐢 (@itsArnaBack) October 21, 2019
A fine of $5000.
For my brother.
For not lodging a tax return for five years.
He was killed five years ago.
Thanks ATO for that.
“He was killed five years ago.
“Thanks ATO for that. Much appreciated.”
Back responded to comments saying while the process to remit the debt was easy, it was upsetting.
“After a phone call today, my parents have to fill out paperwork online to prove his death,” Back tweeted.
“Easy perhaps but unnecessary stress on them, given how he died.”
“Fair enough, but no empathy at all.”
And Twitter was outraged
“The ATO is robodebting regular salaried taxpayers now. Yet still not the massive corps and wealthy individuals who take all and walk away untaxed. This must have been heartbreaking for your father,” one user said.
“That is utterly unacceptable,” another said. “It also highlights why they are too incompetent in their data management to be trusted with robodebt schemes.”
The ATO apologised via Twitter, to which Back responded: “Thanks for the reply. Appreciate the concern. This is being sorted with my parents now. It appears to be an admin error.”
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