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Outrage over ATO website delays as Aussies rush for tax refunds: ‘Pathetic’

The ATO website is experiencing long delays as Aussies try to submit their tax returns in droves.

ATO waiting room
Aussies trying to lodge their tax returns are being met with a "hang tight" message. (Source: X/Getty)

Aussies eager to get their tax refunds have lashed out at the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) as they face huge website delays. Some say they have been forced to wait hours in an online “waiting room” while trying to lodge their returns.

Aussies are able to lodge their tax returns for the 2023-24 financial year from July 1. But many have found themselves in an online queue when logging onto the ATO’s website.

“Hang tight! You’re in the queue,” the website says.

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“To ensure the best experience when you gain access to our online services, we’re currently managing the number of people who can log in.

“Thanks for being patient.”

An ATO spokesperson told Yahoo Finance it had activated the waiting room to help manage the "high volume" of people accessing the site and said people did not have to call or report this.

“The ATO Online waiting room has been in place since April 2020 and is a tool for ensuring continuity of service under conditions of excessive demand or unforeseen events affecting system performance,” the spokesperson said.

“It is a standard method used by many organisations to manage online user experience. This means while some users are still able to access our online services without issue, others are placed in a queue to await access to services.”

The spokesperson noted taxpayers do not need to apply for the stage 3 tax cuts through the ATO website. This will done by your employer each payday.

Similar complaints were made last tax time.

Frustrated Aussies eager to do their tax for the year have taken to social media to complain about the slow website. One called the system “useless” and a number of others said they had been waiting for over an hour.

“Been in the queue for almost an hour … It's pathetic thinking about giving up soon,” one person said.

“Not this again. Every year, same s**t. I would think somethings change over time, not the ATO though,” another said.

“Great way to hold up returns... make everyone lodge online and then deny access to the portal… Get your act together,” a third said.

While taxpayers can lodge their returns from July 1, the tax office has urged people to hold off until the end of the month.

ATO assistant commissioner Rob Thomson said taxpayers who do their returns too early were twice as likely to make a mistake, including forgetting to include interest from banks, dividend income, payments from government agencies and health insurance details.

“Tax time is not a race, and there is a much higher chance that your return will be missing important information if you lodge in early July,” Thomson said.

“This is particularly relevant if you are receiving income from multiple sources.”

Finder personal finance expert Sarah Megginson told Yahoo Finance she expected the ATO would be flooded with early tax return lodgements as Aussies struggling with the cost of living looked for reprieve.

“People will be desperate to get their hands on their refunds with some needing it just to keep the lights on,” she said.

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