The main online portal for lodging tax returns has crashed on the same day the federal government was due to pay more than $1 billion into people’s bank accounts.
But the Australian Taxation Office says the myGov website breakdown was “unrelated” to the surge of tens of thousands of people rushing to cash in on recently legislated tax cuts.
The site crashed on Friday from about 10am and was still down for many people at 3pm, returning only an error message.
The glitch prevented people from lodging their tax returns and cut them off from critical services such as Centrelink, Medicare and child support.
An ATO spokesperson said the glitch was “unrelated” to Thursday’s Telstra outage that caused havoc for shoppers around the nation, nor was it “a result of increased volumes of users”.
“We have already processed over one million returns, and 390,000 refunds with a value of $882 million have already been paid into accounts this morning,” the spokesperson said in a statement to The New Daily on Friday.
On Friday afternoon, a further 110,000 refunds totalling $292 million were due to be paid into accounts, bringing the total amount of tax returns expected to be paid on Friday to a whopping $1.2 billion.
— Steph Thompson (@shorttornado) July 12, 2019
It comes after tax office workers were recently slammed by an unprecedented number of phone calls by people wanting their tax cuts.
Two major changes contributed to the boom – the Morrison government’s newly legislated tax cuts and the introduction of Single Touch Payroll.
— T (@horrorrandchill) July 12, 2019
The Department of Human Services said via MyGov’s Twitter account there were “technical difficulties” with the website.
“We are urgently investigating the issue and we’re working hard to fix this as quickly as possible,” it repeatedly said in replies to people reporting the error.
By 11.45am, MyGov issued an update, saying there were still issues accessing the online portal.
“We are urgently investigating the issue and will keep you updated here. We apologise for any inconvenience. Please try again later.”
The ATO also tweeted that “some of our services (incl. the portals & our online services via myGov) are currently unavailable or experiencing slowness”.
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. pic.twitter.com/oTQNDfC6WP
— ato.gov.au (@ato_gov_au) July 12, 2019
More than a million people have filed tax returns since the start of July – many more than usual – seeking to take advantage of recently legislated tax cuts. By last Monday – just a week into the new financial year – 650,000 people had already lodged their returns.
The Australian Tax Office had earlier confirmed that early birds who lodged their tax returns quickly after July 1 would start to receive their refunds from Friday.
The new single-touch payroll system means most workers have to access the online system to retrieve their payroll summaries for their tax returns this year.