The Australian Tax Office is closing a string of its regional outposts, and is offering staff $10,000 to move to the capital.

The department has moved to soften the blow for workers as regional ATO offices in Sale, Bendigo, Orange, Grafton, Port Macquarie, Cairns, Mackay, Rockhampton and Toowoomba close at the end of October.

The Community and Public Sector Union says that $10,000 is a clear improvement on the $1,000 previously offered, but would still see public servants made to move hundreds of kilometres just to keep their jobs.

“Ongoing detailed discussions between the CPSU and the ATO have led to a good solution for staff affected by the closures of RTAP [regional tax assistance program] sites,” the CPSU said in a bulletin for members.

“The ATO is proposing to meet relocation expenses up to the value of $10,000 for staff moving from regional sites to major ATO offices, consistent with your enterprise agreement.

“This is a significant improvement on the one-off payment, of either $731 or $1101 before tax, previously on offer.”

Speaking to Fairfax Media, an ATO spokesperson said the RTAP sites were set up as a vital resource for small and medium-sized businesses struggling with new obligations under the GST, but now times have changed.

“In 2000, RTAP's focus was face-to-face assistance to support small business during the introduction of GST, but the need for a physical regional presence to provide information and education services has diminished over time,” she said.

“Small business and the community increasingly want the flexibility of online services. We are now working to provide 24/7 assistance through online services such as the small business assist app and after-hours call-back service.”

Some former ATO workers have moved over Medicare or Centrelink offices in their towns, 16 have taken retirement and about 55 remain in limbo.

“All affected employees are entitled to a redundancy,” she said.

“We are actively working to seek redeployment opportunities for these people inside the ATO and within other APS agencies across a range of sites.

“So far, 23 affected employees have been redeployed to another ATO site or have been made offers from one or more APS agencies.”