I want to lodge my tax online.

It’s Friday morning. Last year it took me less than twenty minutes. This year the Australian government introduced a new system – to lodge your tax online you have to open a myGov account and link it to the ATO. I couldn’t believe it. I tried to overcome this inconvenient hurdle by ringing the ATO. After a waiting time of ten minutes I was told “Yes, it’s compulsory”. So I have to open a mygov account and link it to the ATO to lodge my tax online. Ok, so I am on the Australian government website to create a mygov account. There is a huge logo on the screen:

“All in one place. A fast simple way to access government online services. One login. One password. One destination.”

I instantly knew that I was in trouble, but I never imagined the scope.

While putting in my personal data and creating the security questions, I received three emails from mygov. The first thanked me for choosing mygov, Choosing! I had no choice it was compulsory if I wanted to lodge my tax online. The second email thanked me again for choosing mygov and supplied me with an eight digit username, which is impossible to remember and cannot be changed. The third email thanked me for using the security code. Now each time I want to sign in I need to use my eight digit username and twelve digit password then, I will get a SMS with a nine digit security code as well.  “fast and easy”.

Well, the first thing I learnt with my attempt to sign in is that the system doesn’t always accept SMS security codes received on my phone. I thought that perhaps I made a mistake with inputting the numbers, and started all over again. It worked after my fourth attempt. I have now opened a mygov account. Now I have to link it to the ATO. The ATO site asks me for a password. I had one from last year. The system does not except it. It’s quite tricky to get a phone number, dial the number and speak with a human being these days. But I found one and called. The waiting time was under 10 minutes. After fifteen minutes I was informed that I needed to create another password as last year’s won’t work this year. To create a new password wasn’t simple. The system was working me in circles. The person on the phone was willing to help, but she had to put me on hold few times to consult with her superiors. Finally I created a new twelve digit password for the ATO.” One log in. One Password.”

I can lodge my tax now.

I logged in with my eight digit username, a twelve digit password and nine digit security code received on my mobile. All of them were a mixture of letters (some capital) and numbers. The first page on the screen showed my details. Not bad, I only spent just over an hour to get there. Still some hurdles to jump though. I had to update my phone number and my email address. Why? I lodged my tax last year, nothing has changed since then. I typed it in again, but system doesn’t accept my updates. I press the button UPDATE, nothing happens. I dialled the ATO again, waiting time under ten minutes, went through a series of questions, pushed buttons for all sorts of needed information, after which the automated response informs me that due to the unexpected high number of calls to please ring later, then I was disconnected.

I still want to lodge my tax online.

It’s the principle. I have spent over two hours already. I went back to the mygov website, received another nine digit security code and after a few minutes of searching for some sort of help, found the technical support phone number. The waiting time is just under three minutes. Technical support advised me that there is nothing they can do except give me a case number (only 7 digits) if I need to ring them back. They knew I would. I asked how can I put in a complaint and who can help.  I was put on hold and after few minutes given a phone number. Unfortunately this number was incorrect – It connected me to Centrelink instead.

I still want to lodge my tax online.

I went back to the mygov website, received another nine digit security code, but the system didn’t except it. An error message stated that my security code is incorrect. I tried 5 times with five different security codes received on my phone. Then the system shut my account down for 12 hours for security reasons.

I rang back technical support as I had a 7 digit case number. The waiting time was under five minutes. They could not help.”Unfortunately, once your account is locked we cannot help.”I demanded to talk to supervisor and asked for them to write down my mobile number because I was afraid I may get disconnected while waiting. A young man with a heavy accent said he won’t lose me and after six minutes of waiting I was connected to an automated message and couldn’t get out of it. I had to press buttons to get to the right department and finally, I was disconnected.

I still want to lodge my tax online.

I found the general ATO number and after pushing buttons and answering security questions I was finally speaking to a live human being. She asked me all the security questions again then advised me that she would look at the ATO page to help me with the updates. She couldn’t help. I have to wait for 12 hours as my account was shut down. I noticed that there is only ten hours left to wait. She couldn’t help me with the updates either. But she offered two options: to send my tax return by post or to use a tax agent. I argued that I would like “A fast, simple way to access government online services.” She suggested I call technical support.

So I did. I had a 7 digit case number. Waiting time was under five minutes. I asked to talk to a supervisor but the person offered to try and unlock my account. With her instructions I pressed the Shift, Control and Delete buttons simultaneously which deleted a few boxes on the screen, after pressing a few more buttons as instructed the system advised that there is an overload problem and my best shot is to try it all over again on Monday.

I’m starting to question if I want to lodge my tax online?

My tax is very straight forward these days as a pensioner. But perhaps I need to use a tax agent. It will cost money, but I’ll be in “one place, one destination.”

Every time I called for help, automated voices and human voices on the other end offered to record and store my voice for better identification. Can you imagine the mess with voice recording? There would be an error message that my voice doesn’t belong to me. I have a foreign accent like thousands of other Australians. Have you tried to ring Telstra? An automated voice asks “what is the reason for the call”. If I say “bill enquiry”, the voice asks “is it technical support, please say yes or no?” I can’t trust myGov with my voice recording. David Johnson our defence minister doesn’t trust our government’s own ship building firm to “build a canoe”.

I tried to open a mygov account and link it to the ATO today, but what an opportunity to link to Medicare, Childcare and Centrelink as well!

I spent four hours on my computer with a few breaks to scream, swear and to make coffee. My heart was filled with hatred. I was robbed in broad daylight of my time, dignity, and morality. Government bureaucracy is now online. Can I install an antivirus?

God please help me to lodge my tax by Monday.