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Tax chaos as myGov goes down

It's been a chaotic morning for the ATO and myGov. Images: Getty, myGov

Australians keen to receive their tax refund have been left fuming after the Australian government’s myGov portal crashed on Friday morning.

The site went down around 10am on Friday (12 July), just days after both the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the Australian Taxation Office had been receiving record numbers of tax return lodgments.

The ATO tweeted this morning: “Some of our services (incl. the portals & our online services via myGov) are currently unavailable or experiencing slowness. We’re working on the issue & apologise for the inconvenience. Stay tuned for updates.”

MyGov also confirmed to users that it was experiencing technical difficulties.

Yahoo Finance confirmed the outage. Australian taxpayers heading to the site receive a “Proxy error” page, explaining that the site was down due to an “error reading from a remote server”.

Taxpayers heading to myGov receive this error sign. Image: myGov

The myGov portal allows Australians to access a bundle of government services including the ATO, Medicare, Centrelink services and child support.

The Department of Human Services confirmed the outage, telling Yahoo Finance: “Some services, including myGov, are currently unavailable or experiencing slowness.

“The Department is working on the issue and apologises for the inconvenience.”

ATO warned Australians to hold off lodging their tax returns

The ATO advised Australians to consider delaying lodging their tax returns earlier this week as its call centres received a record number of calls.

“While there is no need to delay lodging because of the proposed law, we generally encourage taxpayers to wait a few weeks before lodging so that we can serve them better,” the ATO spokesperson said.

And just yesterday, Frydenberg said the ATO has received a record 1 million tax returns already - well above the 600,000 that had been lodged at this time last year.

Public sector union, the CPSU said the ATO’s workload hadn’t been helped by cuts to more than 6,500 roles.

Australians lodge early to claim $1,080 tax refund

The Coalition government passed its massive $158 billion package of income tax cuts on Friday 5 July, with the treasurer telling Australians they could receive their tax relief within a week depending on when they had lodged.

Around 10 million taxpayers were eligible for up to an extra $1,080 in tax relief as part of the ambitious tax reform plan.

Taxpayers fuming over ATO crash

Frustrated taxpayers have taken to Twitter to vent their irritation at the crash.

The myGov Twitter account was inundated with users curious about whether the site had crashed and when it would be back online.

Others expressed concern over being unable to access Centrelink.

“The problem with myGov being down isn’t just about tax returns. Every single person who receives a Centrelink payment that is due to report today can’t get on to generate their payment,” one user said.

“Being a weekend it’s even harder.”

Others said they weren’t surprised, and blamed the surge of Australians looking to lodge their tax returns to receive their extra $1,080.

The introduction of Single Touch Payroll has meant payment summaries have been sent directly to the ATO, rather than to workers. This has meant workers have had to register for myGov to access their information.

UPDATE: Services restored at 4pm

In a statement provided around 4pm, the Department of Human Services said the outage had been progressively fixed from 12:30pm and is not fully restored.

““We apologise for the inconvenience this outage undoubtedly caused for our customers. We understand the timing is unfortunate,” Department of Human Services General Manager Hank Jongen said.

“We want to make sure customers are not disadvantaged by these issues, so we have extended the deadline for people to report their income until 7.30pm EST.

“Our staff worked hard to rectify the problem as quickly as possible. All services are now available, however a small amount of people may still experience intermittent issues logging in as we return to full capacity.

“If people don’t have urgent business, we encourage them to wait until services are fully restored to allow those with urgent business to access the services they need.

“An investigation is underway to determine what caused the outage, but we have already ruled out any possibility of a cyber-attack.

“We can also confirm all regular payments were made overnight and were not impacted by this disruption.”

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