A Crikey investigation has revealed that Tax Chief Michael D’Ascenzo personally approved big performance bonuses to his most senior executives even though they failed Australian taxpayers by only delivering on 18 of their 22 service standards in 2006. The ATO Annual Report which was delivered to new Assistant Treasurer Chris Bowen just prior to Christmas says that the ATO failed four benchmarks in service standards for taxpayers but paid their fat cats over $2.5 million dollars in performance pay.

D’Ascenzo saw nothing wrong in the work performance of 238 senior executives out of a possible 240 and paid them performance pay in 2006. As well as failing service standards there was a 12% increase in the number of complaints received about ATO services. 10,704 taxpayers complained about things such as not receiving their tax refund and not receiving the correct advice.

The news only gets worse for D’Ascenzo in 2007 as the ATO failed to reach the required benchmark in 13 of their 23 service standards while complaints increased by 8.8% to 11,642 complaints from taxpayers. Perhaps D’Ascenzo will reward his fat cats this year with a trip to the tax haven of Bermuda to see global management consulting and technology services company Accenture. Crikey readers will recall how Mr D’Ascenzo awarded the Bermuda-based company with a multi million dollar IT contract.

In a sure sign that the new Labor government will have to keep an eye on the tax office cooking the books, the annual report says; “Some of the service standard benchmarks for 2007–08 and 2008–09 will be revised downwards in light of change program impacts.” And in a clear attempt to quell the spiraling complaints, the ATO no longer publishes their service standards (timeliness standards) in the taxpayer charter explanatory booklets. Clever stuff!

The tax office paid $340,000 last year to Professor Robin Creyke to be the tax office’s integrity advisor. Perhaps she should have a bo-peep at this!