Feeling forced to create a myGov account?
The year 2019 has brought the expansion of Single Touch Payroll initiative and the record number of ATO scam calls. Scammers are getting more tools at their disposal, thanks to the persistent government efforts to push the population into filling tax returns and use other services online. Luckily, one of the much-sought “holistic” approaches to protecting one's data, money and peace of mind is available to everyone, has been around for decades, and is as follows:
- Don't use myGov, myTax or other online services. Nobody can guarantee your data safety on your computer, on government servers, or anywhere in between.
- Don't use accountants. They can't guarantee to keep your data secure either. It's not something they are specialised in.
- Don't fill the phone or email fields in your tax return. Online forms demand this data, but on paper the person can leave these fields blank. If later someone calls, sends sms or email pretending to be from the ATO, Centrelink, etc, you will immediately know that it is likely to be scammers, because the legitimate organisation shouldn't have these contact details. This is the simplest way to protect yourself from becoming a victim of scam and other fraud.
- Do your tax return yourself, on paper, and send it to ATO via registered post. If any info nevertheless leaks or gets misused, it will at least be on Australian soil and almost certainly AusPost or the ATO fault.
- Request a copy of your income statement from the ATO by phone if you don't want to create a myGov account just to get that information.
If the adoption of the Single Touch Payroll by your employer means that you no longer get your payment summary (group certificate)at the end each financial year, and you were told that now you have to create a myGov account to access the information that was easily available before, remember that you don't have to create a myGov account if you don't want to. You can contact the ATO and request them to send you your income statement. It would of course mean waiting on the phone and then waiting for the post to deliver the letter. It may seem ridiculous that people are forced into creating accounts and handing over more of their personal contact details online in order to get the information that the ATO requires in their tax return form and that the very same ATO made more difficult to access, but perhaps these obstacles and requirements have been deliberately put in place to make the life of those who refuse to sign up for myGov as difficult as possible.
It is not compulsory to have a myGov account.
If you use a registered agent to lodge your tax return, they will have access to your income statement.
If you lodge your own tax return and you don't want to create a myGov account, you will need to phone us on 13 28 61 to get a copy of your income statement.
After the end of each financial year, employers have until 14 July to finalise your STP information. Your employer will let you know if there are any delays in the finalisation of your income statement.
Australian Taxation Office
According to the reader feedback, since myTax roll out, there has also been a significant increase in errors that ATO make while processing tax returns; and after the taxpayer requests the ATO to correct the errors, the amendment letters are worded as if the taxpayer made the mistakes, not the ATO. It is so far unclear, whether that is because the ATO mistakenly concluded that it no longer needs to employ sufficient numbers of diligent people, instead relying on software to replace them, or because the ATO is indeed plagued by the problems 4Corners reported in its Mongrel Bunch of Bastards episode (video); text version Malicious and Vengeful (part 1), High Cost of Taking on the Tax Office (part 2), Cash Grab (part 3).
The year 2021 added another issue: COVID Check-In apps that Australians are almost forced to use in order to get access to the most essential necessities like food, and COVID vaccination records that cannot be accessed online without a myGov account linked to Medicare.
This pretty much nails it!
Anonymous, 27 May 2019
I hope Australians won't be forced to subscribe to this mygov shit because of covid vaccination. It is already bad enough that the government treats out personal data and health information as its own property. This gotta stop! I won't be signing up for any online crap that mandates to know my email or mobile number or wants me to download their app onto my phone.
Anonymous, 29 March 2021
Centrelink, Medicare, ATO, Child Support, myHealthRecord, and the rest of the myGov gang, this lot are worse than scammers!
At least all that scammers want is your money, but these shysters want everything: your money, and all your personal data, and your medical information, and all your private life, and to have control over your body, and to have you under their surveillance from cradle to grave...
In the old days you could get away with giving them only your name and address, but now they also demand your email address and mobile phone number, and force you to agree to their terms and conditions that make you obligated to check their online messages on a daily basis, as if they are going to pay for your Internet data usage or mobile services! And now they also want a photo ID for COVID vaccines. Are they serious??
Pat, Australia, 4 April 2021
Increasingly these days we have only two choices: forced or forbidden. Anything with prefixes "e", "i" or "my" intensifies the despair.
Anonymous, 2 June 2021
Public services, especially face-to-face, are gradually removed and becoming a rare relic. They will soon be removed completely unless of course they help to harvest personal data and justify exta tax collection.
That's why despite the increases to Medicare levy, Medicare benefits are repeatedly cut. But the government won't get rid of Medicare completely. It's a huge avenue for health surveillance and personal data collection.
Anonymous, 24 January 2022
Comes tax time and with it comes another round of my amazement at STP.
According to the ATO, "Single Touch Payroll is an Australian Government initiative to reduce employers' reporting burdens to government agencies." How nice! What at wonderful care and love for an ordinary taxpayer! However, for employers it is also a "mandatory obligation" otherwise "penalties may apply". So really, it's "an offer we can't refuse" (c)The Godfather.
Besides, the reported income info that you need for your tax return is now available only via myGov. Unless you have managed to find this line on the ATO site, "If you lodge your own tax return and you don't want to create a myGov account, you will need to phone us on 13 28 61 to get a copy of your income statement."
What amuses me the most is that before this lovely government initiative the payment summary for the whole financial year used to be available in Xero. Somebody has actually made an extra effort to deliberately remove it from there, to aid the government attempts to bully everyone into creating a myGov account, which is the centralised way for the government to obtain everyone's current mobile phone number and email address with a further possibility to use them for mass surveillance.
P., 14 July 2022
If you use Xero, there is still a way go get your salary and tax withheld totals for the whole financial year. After STP has been imposed on everyone, it became tricky, but it is still doable.
To get the payment summary information in Xero, open the My Payroll page, then go to the Payslips tab, then in the Payslip History list open the payment entry that was last one in the financial year. On that page, you will see the sums related only to that particular last payment. But if you scroll down and press the Print button, the resulting PDF file should contain all the necessary sums for the whole financial year in the Year To Date (YTD) column.
It might be that Xero interface and functions vary for different companies, so if someone has found a different way of accessing the summaries, please leave a comment here. It could be of a great help to others.
Thank you so much for the explanation how to get my income statement from Xero thus avoiding being bullied into creating a myGov account! Luckily that's what my employer's accountants use.
There is clearly a governmental conspiracy to force everyone into creating a myGov account!!
Firstly, ATO deliberately removed the requirement for the employers to give you an income statement: "There is no requirement for your employer to give you a payment summary if they report through STP. This information will be made available to you through ATO online services through myGov or the ATO app."
Secondly, ATO removed all mentions of the possibility to request this statement from them via a phone call. The only page that still has that option is in the 'Business' section of the ATO site, not in 'Individuals', so not many would be able to find it: https://www.ato.gov.au/business/single-touch-payroll/single-touch-payroll-for-employees/accessing-your-income-statement-online/ "If you don't want to create a myGov and link to the ATO you can phone us on 132861 to get a copy of your income statement." All other pages say, "If you don't have a myGov account, you will need to create a myGov account and link it to the ATO." Yeah, I "need" to create this shitty account and say goodbye to my privacy and security - all for the privilege of being able to give ATO my money!
And lastly, the phone requests don't seem to work. I called that number on the 15th of July, waited almost an hour on hold, spoke to an ATO employee, requested the statement, and... after 40 days it still hasn't arrived!
So... as you can see, everything is deliberately arranged to make every Australian to sign up for this online identity card by the name of myGov and risk their personal data to hackers and scammers. Plus you will be forced to give your personal data and money to a telco and get a mobile phone number, because you can't link ATO to myGov without a phone number!
And by the way, if Xero removes that functionality next year, it will confirm that the myGov conspiracy is real.
Anonymous, 24 August 2022
Requesting the payment summary by phone from ATO does work. But it takes a very long time.
I've just received mine in the post. Precisely 2 months after I requested it by calling 13 28 61. And the date on the letter says it was printed 2 days before that. Which means the post was quick, but the ATO obviously doesn't treat such requests with priority.
So the trick is to make your request well in advance to get the letter before the 31st October tax return deadline, and to be patient.
Anonymous, 16 September 2022
I think that those 'My Whatever' apps are some of the biggest security holes. Despite that, various companies relentlessly peddling them to their customers. Instead of spending the money and effort on creating one well-functioning secure website, the companies spread the funds between creating a shitty website and a shitty app. So we end up with two points of potential hacker entry instead of less likely one. Isn't that how Optus got broken into?
Those app should be banned four the sake of our safety if nothing else. Websites have every advantage over such apps. In most cases apps are useless because the same things can be done on the company's website in any browser. Websites can be opened on any device, while apps require you to have a smartphone. You don't need to create a Google or Apple account if you are using a website, but to be able to download and install an app you are forced to give your personal details to Google or Apple.
But...the companies prefer apps because that gives them better control over their customers. Apps can spy on you much better than any website. Apps can bombard you with ads, while browsers do a very good job of blocking unwanted ads on websites. So you get nudged into downloading My Optus, My Telstra, My Vodafone, My Post, My Gov, My Tax, My Super, My Medicare, My Bank, My Medibank, My Health Record, My Shit, My Ass... And each of them wants to grab more of your personal data, sit in your phone and spy on you wherever you go. Each of them is also a gateway for hackers to your data.
I have a personal rule: once a company lets its website become crappy and buggy and starts peddling an app instead, I leave. If that happens in a government department, I go back to paper.
Do yourself a favour people: boycott those My Shit apps. Unless you want to be hacked every month and completely squander your privacy.
Anonymous, 21 November 2022
It is absolutely atrocious that ATO doesn't let public into their brick-and-mortar offices anymore. Because some issues are only possible to resolve in person.
My private health insurer (guess which one!) made an error. Due to some fault in their system my normal yearly policy dates have shifted, making it look like I had a gap in my cover. So ATO can come down on me like a ton of bricks demanding Medicare levy surcharge. All this despite my paying all my yearly PHI bills in full and on time for two whopping decades without making a single claim.
The insurer is a bunch of clueless parasites. They can't fix their error. Their system is crap. We all know that now, don't we?
And the only ways to contact ATO now are either by phone (useless, I waited on hold for hours and the woman couldn't understand what I was talking about), online (useless, I'm getting some irrelevant copy-paste responses from someone who doesn't even read what I write or maybe even from some AI bot), or via myGov (I don't want to sign up for it, as it will be just another place with my personal data for hackers to crack).
There are four locations for ServicesAustralia centres listed on ATO site that can allegedly help with taxation questions. But when I open their links, there are none in my state that have Australian Taxation Office staff.
I have been paying this forced health insurance for years for the sole purpose of not being charged Medicare levy surcharge. And now what?
Anonymous, 16 March 2023