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ATO's E-Tax System Growing In Popularity

by Mary Swire, Tax-News.com, Hong Kong

29 July 2003


The Australian Tax Office (ATO) is predicting a further increase in the number of people using its E-tax pack this year, and has forecast that around 800,000 taxpayers will choose to file their tax returns electronically in 2003.

This will represent a significant increase on last year's 550,000 E-tax returns, and dwarfs the relatively low figure of 70,000 users of the system in 2001. According to E-tax national director at the ATO, Paul Gregg, a survey of 2002 users revealed that 96% would recommend the system to their friends or family.

The E-tax system was first introduced in 1999 and is a web-based tool which allows users to download an electronic version of the ATO's tax pack and lodge their returns using a secure, encrypted internet session.

However, the system has not escaped criticism, particularly from business users who complain that it is incompatible with PCs on a network, and have revealed that returns often cannot be transmitted through corporate firewalls. However, whilst Gregg contends that e-tax can be used on both standalone and networked PCs, he admitted that it would be impossible to make the software recognise all types of firewall.

“There are so many permissions you’d have to cater for that it would become unworkable,” Gregg told computing magazine, PC World this week.

To overcome this problem, a plan has been mooted to transform the e-tax service into a solely web-based facility, which would eliminate the need for users to download the relevant files and transmit them from their own machines.


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