The two identities of the Australian ATO


(I hope you’ll forgive my light laser ATM machine PIN number above. I thought the location was important, but I didn’t want to spell the entire thing out. Is there room for a grammar exception on compassionate grounds)?

I logged into the Australia Tax Office Online Service this morning, which is the Online Service of the Australian Tax Office. I set up to do what I knew would be some riveting reconciling work, and saw the familiar government department logo:

Logo of the Australian Taxation Office rendered in bold, serif Times font

But then I shrank the window to make room for a spreadsheet, and it transformed into this:

Logo of the Australian Taxation Office, rendered as a lowercase initialism with a sans-serif font.

I’m familiar with this mark as well, but there’s still such a bizarre dichotomy between these. One looks professional, if dated. The other looks like the typesetting on an informal blog that has an anime mascot drawn by his long-term girlfriend in the sidebar.

ATO is also an initialism, not an acronym, because it’s not pronounced as a word. But written as “ato”, it looks like it should be a word. Att-oh? Ate-oh? Att-ooh? Eyyy-too? It could even be onomatopoeic with a sniffle of embellishment. A… A… AH… AH-TOOOO! (Gesundheit)! Thanks, sorry my HECS indexation allergy is especially bad this year.

And people say this blog doesn’t contain any useful financial advice. They’re probably right.

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