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  • ATO warns over claiming is easier to detect than ever

    This year the ATO will be focusing on unusually high work-related expense claims across all industries and occupations, a much wider approach than in previous years.

    Assistant Commissioner Adam Kendrick said that the ATO’s ability to identify and investigate claims that differ from the ‘norm’ is improving each year at a rapid rate due to enhancements in technology and the use of data.

    “These enhancements mean that every return is scrutinised and it is becoming a lot easier to identify claims that are significantly higher than those claimed by people with similar occupations and employment income,” Mr Kendrick said.

    In addition to focusing on work-related expense claims that are significantly higher than expected, the ATO will also be paying particular attention to claims:

    • that have already been reimbursed by employers, and
    • for private expenses such as travel from home to work.

    Help to get it right

    It’s important for people claiming to carefully review deductions before lodging their tax return to avoid a delay in getting a return.

    Assistant Commissioner Adam Kendrick said there were three key points for people to remember when claiming work-related expenses:

    • you must have spent the money yourself,
    • it must be related to your job, and
    • you must have a record to prove it.

    When claiming work-related travel, it’s important to remember you cannot claim for a normal trip between home and work, unless:

    • you use your car to carry bulky tools or equipment which you use for work and can’t leave on the work premises;
    • your home is a base for employment or
    • you have shifting places of employment (you regularly work at more than one place each day).

    For more information, visit ato.gov.au/deductions or call 13 28 61.

    Case studies

    In a recent case, a railway guard claimed work-related car expenses for travel between his home and workplace. He indicated that this expense related to the carriage of bulky tools – including a flag, safety vest, handheld radio, torch, instructions and timetables. During our investigations the employer advised that the equipment was able to be securely stored on their premises. The taxpayer’s car expense claims were disallowed because the transportation of the equipment between home and work was his personal choice.

    In another case a taxpayer lived in Western Australia and moved to take up a job in Victoria. He claimed expenses of over $18,000, which included motor vehicle costs to travel to another state to purchase a caravan. He also claimed the costs associated with buying the caravan and driving to Victoria to take up the job. When prompted by the ATO, the taxpayer amended his work-related expense claims to just over $1,300, which excluded all the travel costs associated with moving to his new work location.

    Last modified: 14 Jul 2015QC 45298