Call to avoid in­cor­rect claims

Aus­tralian Tax Of­fice ex­pand­ing abil­ity to spot dodgy work-re­lated de­duc­tions

Whitsunday Times - - ADVERTISING FEATURE - An­thony Keane News Corp

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

Chap­man said.

“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.”

PHOTO: KENTEEGARDIN

BE THOR­OUGH: The ATO is clamp­ing down on dodgy tax claims.

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