Tax time 2018: How to correctly claim deductions

KEEP THE RECEIPT: This year, the Australian Taxation Office will be focusing on whether deductions can be substantiated. Photo: SHUTTERSTOCK
KEEP THE RECEIPT: This year, the Australian Taxation Office will be focusing on whether deductions can be substantiated. Photo: SHUTTERSTOCK

To ensure you are on the right side of the legal ledger when filing a tax return, people must be aware of how to correctly claim deductions.

Australian Taxation Office’s assistant commissioner Kath Anderson encourages taxpayers to follow these three golden rules:

  1. You must have paid for it and not been reimbursed.
  2. It must be directly related to earning your income and not a private expense.
  3. You must have a record to prove it.

“Many taxpayers make legitimate claims, but we are also seeing errors in some claims, and some taxpayers are making risky or outright false claims,” she said.

“Substantiation will be a key focus area for the ATO this year. 

These might not always be big amounts, but together they add up.

Assistant commissioner Kath Anderson

“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.”

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,” Ms Anderson said.

“These might not always be big amounts, but together they add up.

“Plus, no matter how small, it’s not okay for someone to expect the rest of us to pay for their private expenses.”