Painful moments with ATO’s myTax in 2016

While some of the layout/format and accessibility of myTax is an improvement upon eTax, I faced a number of frustrations which made it feel like a worse experience:

  • About 30% of my entered data went missing after I entered it and returned on a later date to resume. None of my deductions, medical info, offsets or sole trader business figures showed up when I resumed my tax return. I had previously clicked the “Save” buttons within the detail screens, but perhaps I needed to actually click “Save and Exit” on the main screen to properly save my data? This was confusing and frustrating and could have resulted in several hours of reentry.
  • I preferred the way eTax presented sections by asking clear questions. myTax just presents headings, often in jargon terminology so you need to know what it means. You have to specifically delve into each section to “Add” records, rather than being asked Yes/No questions. So I felt like information could have easily been missed.
  • The sole trader section asks for “Main business or professional activity” and says to select from options, except you cannot actually select, you have to start typing before you see options, but you don’t even know what the options are. It’s like guessing. Quite frustrating.
  • Many of the field labels assume you are an expert in tax and understand all the terminology. Things like “Non primary production personal services income”. Ideally these fields would have more explanatory text nearby them, rather than having to dig into the help documents to explain every single field.
  • My return took me several hours to complete and the MyGov session timed out at several points, asking me to relogin which then required another SMS security code. It got quite laborious and annoying after a while. And then I was very concerned that some of my data was not saved if I left it dormant for too long.
  • I could not paste in my business ABN numbers because the source I was copying from contained spaces and the field truncated the characters. This meant I had to hand-type the ABN number which increases the risk of errors and is tiring.
  • I liked the way the help panel was easily accessible on the right of the page. Unfortunately the help documents were not always as clear and informative as they used to be in eTax. I sometimes had to click through multiple pages to find a simple definition of a term.
  • Once or twice when I accessed an ATO calculator in the process of completing my return, it made me login again to MyGov which then signed out my tax return session (possibly losing data? I’m not sure). It felt disjointed and I didn’t understand why the calculator wasn’t built-in to myTax.
I hope the ATO hires a reputable usability/UX firm to review myTax and build some serious improvements. Yump is available for hire.