CRACK DOWN: The ATO will be keeping a close eye on your expenses this tax time.
CRACK DOWN: The ATO will be keeping a close eye on your expenses this tax time. AntonioGuillem

ATO to crack down on false tax claims

THE Australian Tax Office is warning taxpayers they will be paying close attention to claims for "other" work-related expenses this year, and is reminding people to keep appropriate records.

Assistant Commissioner Kath Anderson said that last year 6.7 million taxpayers claimed a record $7.9 billion in deductions for "other work-related expenses".

"It's a significant amount of money and Australians expect us to ensure that people are not over-claiming," she said.

This year the ATO is shining a spotlight on "other" deductions. Legitimate "other work-related expenses" can include home office, union fees, mobile phone and internet, overtime meals as well as tools and equipment.

"However, they are only deductible if they meet the three golden rules. Firstly, you must have paid for it and not been reimbursed. Secondly, it must be directly related to earning your income and not a private expense, and thirdly, you must have a record to prove it," Ms Anderson said.

Even though tax time is months away, taxpayers will be incurring expenses now. It's important to remember what you need to do to be able to claim a deduction.

"Many taxpayers make legitimate claims, but we are also seeing errors in some claims, and some taxpayers are making risky or outright false claims," Ms Anderson said.

"It's important that you have a record of the expense and can demonstrate how you calculated your claims. Every year we disallow lots of claims because there is no evidence to prove the expense. Yet it's so easy to keep an electronic record.

"And remember, if your expenses are for both work and private use you can only claim a deduction for the work-related portion. We are seeing quite a few examples of people trying to claim the whole expense, including the private portion. Like some who incorrectly claim their entire phone and internet bundle, and others who claim an overseas study trip even though they had a holiday as part of the trip.

"These might not always be big amounts, but together they add up. Plus, no matter how small, it's not OK for someone to expect the rest of us to pay for their private expenses."

Ms Anderson warned that the ATO had sophisticated systems and analytics to ensure wrongdoing didn't fly under the radar.