The ATO is increasing attention, scrutiny and education on work-related expenses (WREs) this tax time.
Assistant Commissioner Kath Anderson said: “We have seen claims for clothing and laundry expenses increase around 20% over the last five years. While this increase isn’t a sign that all of these taxpayers are doing the wrong thing, it is giving us a reason to pay extra attention.”
Ms Anderson said common mistakes the ATO has seen include people claiming ineligible clothing, claiming for something without having spent the money, and not being able to explain the basis for how the claim was calculated.
“I heard a story recently about a taxpayer purchasing everyday clothes who was told by the sales assistant that they could claim a deduction for the clothing if they also wore them to work,” Ms Anderson said.
“This is not the case. You can’t claim a deduction for everyday clothing you bought to wear to work, even if your employer tells you to wear a certain colour or you have a dress code.”
Ms Anderson said it is a myth that taxpayers can claim a standard deduction of $150 without spending money on appropriate clothing or laundry. While record keeping requirements for laundry expenses are “relaxed” for claims up to this threshold, taxpayers do need to be able to show how they calculated their deduction.
The main message from the ATO was for taxpayers to remember to:
- Declare all income;
- Do not claim a deduction unless the money has actually been spent;
- Do not claim a deduction for private expenses; and
- Make sure that the appropriate records are kept to prove any claims.