Relax, it's tax time

July 18, 2017

Relax, it's tax time.

Haven’t lodged your tax return yet? Well, that’s good, taking your time means you’re much less likely to make a mistake.

The Australian Taxation Office recommends you wait till mid-late August when most data from employers, banks, government agencies and other third parties has been received and pre-filled.

Assistant Commissioner Kath Anderson says there’s no need to rush and lodge a tax return and that most are better off taking their time and getting it right.

‘‘We know some taxpayers like to get in early and lodge in the first month of tax time, but our analysis shows that if you lodge in July, you’re far more likely to make a mistake by leaving out some of your income,’’ Ms Anderson said. ‘‘Waiting until this information is available will help you avoid mistakes. For many people waiting until August means all they have to do is double-check the information we have pre-filled, enter any deductions and then hit submit.’’

Ms Anderson says if you’re among the two to three million early birds expected to lodge in July, don’t panic if you’ve made a mistake or forgotten to include something.

It’s easy enough to lodge an amendment online at www.ato.gov.au/fixamistake

While there’s no hurry, if you’re lodging your own tax return, do make sure you get in before the 31 October deadline. Tax agents can lodge returns for clients later but you need have contacted them by 31 October.

Taking time to get your tax right

Assistant Commissioner Kath Anderson discusses what taxpayers need to remember to do if they choose to lodge their tax return in July and why they should consider waiting until mid-August when pre-fill is available.

The ATO is eyeing these work-related deductions

Higher-than-expected tax deductions relating to cars, travel, clothing, internet, mobile phones and self-education expenses are among the top claims the tax office will be keeping a close eye on this tax time.

Ms Anderson said the ATO is using real-time data to compare taxpayers with others in similar occupations and income brackets, to identify higher-than-expected claims.

“The ATO scrutinises every return. We have the technology and experience to detect non-compliance and we are continuing to catch taxpayers who are deliberately doing the wrong thing,” Ms Anderson says. “There are three golden rules for taxpayers to remember to get it right:  you have to have spent the money yourself and can’t have been reimbursed, the claim must be directly related to earning your income, and you need a record to prove it.”

10 things you probably can’t claim

  1. Trips between home and work. Generally you can’t claim a deduction for these because they’re considered private travel.
  2. Car expenses for transporting bulky tools or equipment, unless:
    • you need to use your bulky tools to do your job
    • your employer requires you to transport this equipment
    • there is no secure area to store the equipment at work.
  1. Car expenses that have been salary sacrificed.
  2. Meal expenses for travel, unless you were required to work away from home overnight.
  3. Everyday clothes you bought to wear to work like a suit or black pants, even if your employer requires you to wear them. To legitimately claim your uniform, it needs be unique and distinctive, such as a uniform with your employer’s logo, or be specific to your occupation and not for everyday use, like chef’s pants or coloured safety vests.
  4. A flat rate for cleaning eligible work clothes without being able to show how you calculated the cost.
  5. Higher education contributions charged through the HELP scheme.
  6. Self-education expenses when the study doesn’t have a direct connection to your current employment – your future or dream jobs don’t count.
  7. Private use of phone or internet expenses – only the work-related portion counts.
  8. Up-front deductions for tools and equipment that cost more than $300. However, you can spread your deduction claim over a number of years. That’s called depreciation.

For more information on how to lodge, visit www.ato.gov.au/lodgeonline and for more about deductions, go to www.ato.gov.au/mydeductions.

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