Oh yes, for many clients, receiving mail from the ATO can feel like getting a nasty letter from a disgruntled, mean (and probably ugly) individual. Better not read it and getting upset right? In the case of actual hate mail, yes. In the case of correspondence from the ATO, no…please no.
A pain point for a number of my clients is meeting ATO obligations. Yes, paying GST and PAYG can be a tough chore for small business owners. However, with good cash flow management, these obligations are much more straightforward.
If you receive mail from the ATO, please open it. I have seen so many clients just ignore ATO letters, resulting in bank account garnishes being issued. These can’t be reversed and can really upset you when you have wages to pay. The ATO was responsible for only a small fraction of the company bankruptcy cases last financial year, they were a creditor in just about all of them. Legal action is the last case scenario for the ATO, we must trust that they would rather have a case resolved than take it to court.
To make things less terrifying, there is a new ATO team called the “early intervention office” further extending the helping hand to Australian small business operators. We all know that it can depend on the day, and the operator you get, as to the achieved outcome, but most are preferably in favor of small business. A big take away from the last ATO update session I attended was the assurance they were streamlining call center decision making to avoid the “ring round till you get the answer you want” scenario.
Receiving what feels like gruesome hate mail from the ATO is not a nice feeling. However, burying your head in the sand is not going to make them go away. Take action early, contact the early intervention office and plead your case. In most cases you will be granted breathing space and a payment plan will be established. Once you have the payment plan, make the payments! Simple!
Don’t let your ATO debt compound from month to month, it will keep you awake at night. Get on top of it. The sense of relief you will feel is second to none, leaving you with that “why did I not do this sooner” feeling. It’s a simple step, and you CAN do it.