By Matt Watson
Queensland University of Technology students have been urged to contact the Australian Tax Office (ATO) over a glitch that puts their student loans into credit instead of debt.
The ATO said the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) glitch emerged in 2014 during a routine system upgrade affecting about 1,500 students.
Until the error is fixed — which is expected to be next year — no students with accounts in credit will be refunded, even if their situation is unrelated to the glitch.
One student, who did not want to be identified, told the ABC that the ATO would not provide a refund despite his account showing a credit that dates back to 2005, nine years before the computer glitch developed.
The National Tax and Accountants Association’s Andrew Gardiner said the glitch should have been fixed by now.
“It is really concerning that an issue that they’ve been able to identify as being problematic cannot be rectified,” he said.
“They don’t know whether they owe money, whether they need to pay money, where they sit.
“The extension into that is that the time that it’s going to take for tax agents who are looking after these students is also going to be a frustration.
“So nobody really wins out of this at all.
“If the ATO gives them a timeframe … when they lodge their tax return they can do so with certainty.”
The ATO said the glitch was not disadvantaging any students and those with concerns should contact them.
Mr Gardiner said past and present QUT students could also contact a registered tax agent to review their HELP account.
He worried students from other universities could also be affected.
“It’s one of those situations where until somebody highlights the problem there’s no guarantee that it doesn’t apply more broadly,” he said.
This post originally appeared on ABC News.
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