Why the ATO website went down again just as the commissioner was saying everything was fine

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The Australian Tax Office’s (ATO) systems went down again just as its commissioner, Chris Jordan, was saying everything was fine.

At lunch yesterday, he was telling the National Press Club in Canberra that the ATO had so far received more than 210,000 tax returns from individuals without a hitch.

In the afternoon, the ATO’s systems went down and the mainframe had to be rebooted.

“It is not related to recent hardware issues or our storage area network,” the ATO said.

“No data has been lost and our systems were not compromised or subject to a cyber-attack.”

The cause was “applications running incorrectly”.

The ATO’s websites and online systems crashed over a number of days in December. Outages continued in January, February, last week and this week.

Jordan told the lunch function: “The Australian tax system is in good shape and overall the tax experience of Australians is quite positive.”

However, he did acknowledge the IT issues.

“These outages were highly unusual and disruptive for the users of our systems, particularly the tax profession, and the superannuation and software industries,” he says.

“I wish I could give an iron-clad guarantee that all systems will work 100% of the time. But that is not reality when you are talking about very large and complex systems.”

The ATO has launched an independent analysis of its IT infrastructure, platforms and services.