The Australian Taxation Office is moving ahead with the mammoth income tax component of its Change Program starting tomorrow.
"This is a watershed decision to replace our National Taxpayer
System that has worked well since the mid 1970's with a new
integrated core processing system," the agency said on its
site. The scale was "enormous", even when compared to global system
replacements, it said.
Many systems would be unavailable from noon today (Friday) until 6:00pm Tuesday, with little to no access to information through
portals, even for staff. There would be delays processing income
tax returns, as those filed would be stockpiled.
The implementation was not expected to go without problems.
"History tells us we can expect some teething issues after we
deploy a new system of this magnitude. We will begin by processing
a small number of forms in the new system, gradually increasing as
we bed in the system. We are putting in place extensive
arrangements for managing the problems that will arise.
Nevertheless, there will be impacts on our service standards which
we will take all possible steps to minimise," the agency said.
The fringe benefit tax component had suffered from a lack of
prior testing, according to a recent audit report of the program, which had led to some problems with implementation.
Research director Sam Higgins from analyst Longhaus believed that issues would likely be
related to data quality. "Often that's an area which gets less
attention than it should," he said.
In the short term, he thought issues would be light, while as
time progressed, the data problems would arise, even if the
taxation office had spent enough on managing the quality.
"You only have to get one widow on A Current Affair asking why
the tax office was asking for money from her dead husband to
involve a whole lot of politicians," he said.