Money

Whose Tax Returns Is The ATO Double-Checking This Year?

Each year, the Australian Taxation Office singles out specific careers where expenses claims and refund amounts will be more closely scrutinised. The targets this year? IT professionals, plumbers and non-commissioned defence force officers. Plus: all the current ATO guides for deductions in specific jobs.

Picture by HVargas

According to the ATO, around 90,000 people employed in those three fields will be contacted with specific guidelines on what they can and can’t claim, to ensure all deductions are allowable. Obviously we’re particularly interested in what IT professionals can claim. The highlights from the full guide:

  • If you regularly work from a home office, you may be able to claim electricity and depreciation on office equipment. However, you generally won’t be able to claim rent or mortgage payments, especially if your employer also has an office in your home city.
  • You can claim phone expenses for work-related calls if your employer doesn’t reimburse them, but you need to demonstrate that the costs are for work-related calls by keeping a diary or identifying your regular pattern of use based on an itemised bill.
  • Similarly, you can claim for the work-related portion of internet access, but you would need to demonstrate a basis for that calculation.
  • You can’t claim for the cost of travel to and from your regular workplace, but if you regularly have to work on multiple sites, you can claim expenses for travelling between those sites, or from a secondary site to your home. Note that your home office doesn’t count for these purposes.
  • You can only claim laundry if wearing a specific uniform or item of clothing (such as a tie with a company logo) is compulsory. Even if your workplace requires you to wear a suit, you can’t claim laundry unless it’s a specific suit from a registered uniform list.
  • You can claim self-education expenses, but there has to be a connection between the course and your employment. In other words: don’t try requalifying as a naturopath and claiming it while working as a network manager.

Here’s the full set of 2011-2013 deduction guides for specific careers, which also include detailed examples of the records you need to keep. If you work in these areas, it’s well worth checking: you might easily be missing allowable deductions. Even if (like the majority of Australians) you use a tax agent or service, it doesn’t hurt to inform yourself as well. (We updated this guide on June 29 when the ATO released a stack of additional guides.)

Older guides for the 2010-2011 tax year are also available for some careers.

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