| 12.01,12. 07:37 AM |
Tax man's $5 million cab bill
January 12, 2012
THE tax office spent almost $5.5 million on taxis last financial year.
The 22,000 staff of the Australian Taxation Office spent an average of $250 each on cabs.
Despite the Opposition questioning the spending and suggesting more video-conferencing the tax office defended its policies, saying staff used "strict internal travel guidelines".
The spending was revealed in the Senate Estimates Committee, where the tax office said it would cut its workforce by 1284 people.
Liberal Senator David Bushby said it was important staff were able to meet appointments and some taxi use was appropriate, but he said taxpayers would ask questions about the amount of spending.
"There's certainly an irony to this, that they are out there collecting taxes from everyone ... and then they are going off and spending taxpayers' money in this way," he said.
"Are they just using taxis and not really thinking? How efficient is their planning in terms of how they get people to where they need to be?"
The Office of the Chief Knowledge Officer, which looks after information management and security assessments, spent $83,200 on cabs in 2010-11. There are 146 staff in that section.
A tax office spokeswoman said the ATO employed 22,000 people in more than 40 locations.
"This includes, but is not limited to, face-to-face meetings within the ATO across regions, meetings with contractors, investigation of clients and representation ... at national and international events," she said.
The tax office offered staff a loan for the cost of a yearly train or bus ticket, to encourage public transport use.
"The ATO also has (a policy) encouraging employees to give preference to video-conferencing or tele-conferencing instead of motor vehicle or air travel."