Hold the front page: Tax collectors unpopular

Chris Jordan complaining:

Australia’s taxation commissioner Chris Jordan has launched a scathing attack on the public broadcaster for a Four Corners episode in April which quoted a company owner attacking the ATO as a “mongrel bunch of bastards”.

Look mate – there is a queue of people complaining about the ABC. Wait your turn like  everyone else.

“I mean, seriously, how appropriate is it to have the title of the Four Corners program ‘A Mongrel Bunch of Bastards’?” Mr Jordan asked. “It is highly offensive and inaccurate”.

No. No. Don’t tell me. I’ve got this. Because it’s a tautology? No? Should be  ‘A Mongrel Pack of Bastards’ because mongrels run in packs not bunches? Okay, I give up.

“Just think of this for a moment. How would staff of the ABC feel if News Limited splashed across its front pages the ABC was simply a ‘mongrel bunch of bastards’ or that they said the whole of Fairfax is nothing but a ‘mongrel bunch of bastards?”’

Here is a man who has never once seen a News Limited tabloid cover.

“I am sure the indignation would be palpable. So why did the ABC think it was OK to call the staff of the ATO a mongrel bunch of bastards?”

As loathe as I am to defend the ABC, it seems to me that they were reporting what other tax-paying citizens have said about the ATO.

Mr Jordan said that, while he had been Commissioner, no finding of systemic abuse of small business had been found — including in any of the 44 reports and more than 4,700 pages compiled by the Inspector General of Taxation and the ANAO.

For the love of god – if we could trust what the ATO, the Inspector General of Taxation, and the ANAO said we wouldn’t need the media, now would we?

Here is the problem:

Mr Jordan said that, since the program aired on April 9, the Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman and the Inspector General of Taxation had publicly called for people to come forward with complaints.

“A number of approaches have been received, but only 62 actual complaints have emerged since 9 April from all sources,” he said. “The majority of those came direct to us and we have resolved about half of them so far”.

62 complaints in less than two months? That is more than one per day! This is supposed to reassure us? Really?

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32 Responses to Hold the front page: Tax collectors unpopular

  1. alexnoaholdmate

    This is one of your best, Sinc.

  2. Dr Fred Lenin

    The inquiry which found no wrongdoing by the department was an internal one , chaired by Sir Humphrey Appleby ,the final report was printed r-three months before the inquiry started , SOP for the public”service” .

  3. RobK

    Jesus rode a donkey and had something to say about tax collectors.

  4. stackja

    Paul Hogan said what about the ATO?

  5. Entropy

    Lovely fisking there!
    Thanks Sinc. Enjoyed it.

  6. Mother Lode

    Calm down, you poor (that doesn’t seem right) cloistered tosser. I think you are jumping the gun.

    The ABC likes taxes – likes the way the money flows like like a mighty unhurried river into their coffers.

    The ABC hates businesses not on the government tit. Rapists of Gaia, unceremonious fingerers of women, malicious torturers of minorities, grasping hoarders of the filthiest lucre, liars, spivs, cheats.

    If the ABC showcased this quote, it would have with sublime satisfaction. It would be saying “Listen to him: you have got him. Do him slowly – then that last nudge so he kills himself!”

  7. Pyrmonter

    it seems to me that they were reporting what other tax-paying citizens have said about the ATO

    Well, that was rather the point: complaints that the ATO used garnishee notices ‘aggressively’ rather overlook that for a garnishee notice to issue, it will (almost invariably) have followed first the issue of an assessment; then non-payment; then failure to respond to a firmer action letter, and then a warning of possible legal action. The program was filled with ‘taxpayers’ who either thought they’d found a device to circumvent well-established anti avoidance measures (such as avoiding withholding through being a ‘contractor’, despite being an employee) or complained that the ATO wanted to collect the taxes due from them.

    I’m happy to debate the level of taxation (it’s far too high, and falls too heavily on middle and upper personal exertion income) but once you accept that we’re going to have some level of tax (even in most forms of libertopia, that has to be the case), it is entirely reasonable to expect taxpayers to comply with the law.

  8. cynical1

    As loathe as I am to defend the ABC, it seems to me that they were reporting what other tax-paying citizens have said about the ATO.

    “All white people are [email protected]

    Was another ABC riff on what “some people” say.

  9. Percy Popinjay

    How would staff of the ABC feel if News Limited splashed across its front pages the ABC was simply a ‘mongrel bunch of bastards’

    They’d be outraged, of course, instead of rightly feeling overweening shame (of which they are incapable), while 97% of people who read the statement would think that News Ltd was simply stating the bleeding obvious.

    or that they said the whole of Fairfax is nothing but a ‘mongrel bunch of bastards?’

    See above.

  10. Percy Popinjay

    while he had been Commissioner, no finding of systemic abuse of small business had been found — including in any of the 44 reports and more than 4,700 pages compiled by the Inspector General of Taxation and the ANAO

    That statement reads like a pisstake.

  11. Roger

    …it is entirely reasonable to expect taxpayers to comply with the law.

    And it is entirely reasonable to expect the ATO to act justly.

    Refusing businesses with less than $250m turnover the right to an independent review of their cases is not just.

  12. Dr Fred Lenin

    Does this comrade realise that Tax collectors in the Roman Empire were un popular too? Probably hasn’t read a history book or bible in his life .

  13. Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    No-one likes being called a ‘mongrel’. I am sure that he won’t object to ‘Pure-bred bunch of bastards!’ All fixed. When does the group-hug start?

  14. Eyrie

    Heinlein via Lazarus Long: “Beware of strong drink. It may cause you to shoot at tax collectors – and miss.”

  15. JC

    This phoney sense of aggrievement is coming from the bloke who for weeks on end – at the beginning of the year- was threatening and bullying most sectors of small business. What a whack job.

  16. struth

    Er is this the same ATO who makes sons wealthy beyond their wildest dreams.
    Lets them know how to scam the system.
    After last year’s fiasco and expose of the corruption of the very top of the ATO is this bloke for real?

  17. candy

    The same ATO who makes sons wealthy beyond their wildest dreams.

    Indeed, there is crookedness at the very top that was brushed aside and never talked of again. Hushed up even, by the LNP. Mates etc.

  18. Megan

    I would have thought that they would be proud of such a title. If I were in Mr Jordan’s esteemed position I would have called a staff meaning and told them they were magnificent bastard who were totally doing their jobs to perfection.

  19. Megan

    …magnificent bastards. That’s what you get when your phone thinks it knows English spelling and grammar better than you do.

  20. Jannie

    The hypocritical mongrel bastards at the ABC biting the hand that feeds it. The ABC don’t pay tax, it spends other peoples taxes.

  21. Mr Bunny

    There is of course the irony that the existence of the ABC depends upon the ability of the ATO to collect taxes. Perhaps taxpayers should have an opt out box in their tax return:
    Yes l want part of my taxes to go towards the ABC/No l do not want any of my taxes to go towards the ABC.

  22. flyingduk

    Taxation is theft, I would think it is perfectly reasonable to call a thief a mongrel is it not?

  23. Fang

    Libs are such a piss eeak bunch of loosers atm, that the left are starting to eat their own! Gov tax department shitty that goverment broadcaster spat at the Goverment tax department! I’d leave them too it! 🙂

  24. hzhousewife

    Perhaps taxpayers should have an opt out box in their tax return:
    Yes l want part of my taxes to go towards the ABC/No l do not want any of my taxes to go towards the ABC.

    The governemnt could work out what its citiznes prefer by offering a list of ten items on the yearly tax return for us to proritise re spending eg 1.Health 2 Education 3 Old Age 4 Roads 5 Public Transport 10 Julie Bishops latest fling to a far off country. But, they really don’t want to know. They are quite happy to spend, spend, spend.

  25. Bruce in WA

    Should be ‘A Mongrel Pack of Bastards’ because mongrels run in packs not bunches? Okay, I give up.

    I’d prefer “A pack of mongrel bastards” or even “A pack of bastard mongrels” — but then, let us not quibble over semantics.

    Whichever way you look at it, they are both mongrels and bastards.

  26. Percy Popinjay

    is this bloke for real?

    Indeed he is, struth – and he has 44 reports and over 4,700 pages of bullsh*t that prove it.

  27. Rococo Liberal

    I spend my days dealing with the ATO on behalf of my clients.
    The fact is that many ATO officers are not terribly good at what they do. Very few are mongrels.
    They all have a lack of commercial knowledge which hampers them quite a bit. But I find that they tend not to be nasty when a lawyer is representing the taxpayer. That is because a good lawyer can ensure that all the heat is taken out of the interface between the ATO and the client.

  28. Pyrmonter

    @ Roccoco Liberal

    Indeed. I’m sure there are a few malicious and nasty ATO staff – that sort of thing breeds in union-controlled bureaucracies – but I tend to be more frightened at what they don’t do than what they do.

  29. Cynic of Ayr

    Hahaha!!! This bloke skites about only one complaint a day. Sure!!! Write in a complaint to the ATO, and receive the following letter of Acknowledgment:
    “Thank you for your letter regarding your experience with the ATO, which we know to be incorrect, because we know it is.
    To alleviate any fears of unbalance or victimisation by the ATO, please be informed that your personal affairs have come up in a random listing by the ATO’s Computerised Random Compliance System.
    Early advice from your financial advisor may be appropriate, so we advise to be aware of your costs involved in any fees.
    Please also be aware that you will be liable for the cost of the ATO investigators, such costs being air travel (first class) accommodation (five star) day to day expenses of $500 per day (bottled water etc) Note that these costs are not subject to any reimbursement should the ATO, be unable to find any errors of compliance, as remote as that may be.
    Please be assured that this investigation is totally unrelated to your letter of complaint, and is a complete coincidence, but will be an opportunity to experience first hand, our helpful friendly investigators.
    Yours blah blah.”

  30. Kneel

    “Write in a complaint to the ATO, …”

    My old boss got a summons to defend himself in court for tax evasion – no “please explain”, no audit, straight to court. $50k later, it is thrown out and he has no comeback to get his money back.

    Get a speeding fine and contest it, then win – NSW RMS will NOT give you back your demerit points, nor can the judge force them to. How can that be – that a government department cannot be directed by a court of law to perform a particular action in a particular case?

    HTF can I be expected to understand and comply with a law when even a lawyer would refer me to a specialist in tax law because “it’s complicated”? If even someone trained in the law for years at university requires specialist advise in some area, then clearly no-one who is NOT such a specialist could be expected to KNOW what the law means and how to comply with it.
    IOW, we will make it so complicated you have to pay one of us to stay legal. Yet “ignorance is no excuse”. There needs to be some sort of sanity check on this principle.

  31. JohnA

    Indeed, as Dr Fred Lenin and others have pointed out, this is old news. Not fake news, mind you, but certainly old news.

    RobK it wasn’t Jesus who had a lot to say about tax collectors, rather it was the populace in general commenting on the unsophisticated ways their levies were collected. Jesus actually had a tax collector (ret.) as one of his Twelve. No, not Judas the pilferer, but Matthew who was previously Levi.

  32. mh

    The ATO has made changes as a direct result of the 4 Corners investigation.

    The changes include only case managers able to issue standard garnishees.

    Chris Jordan should be thanking the ABC.

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