Call to avoid incorrect claims
Australian Tax Office expanding ability to spot dodgy work-related deductions
TAX agent-prepared returns will receive fresh attention from the Australian Taxation Office this year as it expands its technology to spot dodgy deductions.
The move coincides with a new warning from the ATO for people to avoid incorrect claims for work-related expenses.
Last year the Australian Taxation Office introduced real-time monitoring of about 3.2 million online tax returns, with messages about questionable claims being sent to individuals as they prepared their returns.
More than 100,000 people received messages and many changed their deductions.
Assistant Commissioner Kath Anderson said the real-time monitoring would identify higher-thanexpected claims related to motor vehicles, travel, phone, internet and self-education.
“It’s not designed to catch people out,” she said.
“It’s designed on the basis that we think most people will do the right thing.
“It compares people to their peers.
“People in similar occupations earning similar amounts of money. It’s quite sophisticated.”
Ms Anderson said the technology would also notice types of income that was declared in previous years and not declared this year.
“We think that’s especially important for people who are lodging early, because they tend to miss some income,” she said.
“Many taxpayers don’t have a good understanding of what deductions they can claim, and believe they can claim for items which they in fact can’t.
H& R Block director of tax communications Mark Chapman said workers who tried to put in wrong claims were likely to be spotted.
In previous years the ATO would announce it was keeping an extra-close eye on certain occupations at tax time, but now it can scan millions of electronic transactions and claims made by all workers.
“Aren’t we lucky – they’re targeting all of us,” Mr
They have access to so many different sources of data these days and are sophisticated in the way they can benchmark people against other people. — Mark Chapman, H&R Block
“They have access to so many different sources of data these days and are sophisticated in the way they can benchmark people against other people.
“The chances of putting in large inaccurate claims these days are quite small.”
Mr Chapman said the new messaging system was unnecessary for tax agents who were doing their job correctly, and could scare some individuals into not claiming everything they were entitled to.
“I think a lot of people find these messages intimidating,” he said.
“I have no doubt a lot of people did change their return after receiving a message (last year) but I’m not sure how many needed to change it.”
BE THOROUGH: The ATO is clamping down on dodgy tax claims.