August 2017

Uniforms Tax Deductions

Don’t get taken to the cleaners with laundry deductions

A timely warning at tax time for people wanting to claim laundry expenses.

The Australian Tax Office is concerned about the increasing levels of claims by tax payers for clothing and laundry expenses and will be “increasing attention, scrutiny and education” this tax season.

Assistant Commissioner Kath Anderson said that last year over 6.3 million people made a work-related expense claim for clothing and laundry expenses, totalling almost $1.8 billion.
“We have seen claims for clothing and laundry expenses increase around 20 per cent 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,” she said.

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.
“For your clothing to be eligible for a deduction, it needs to be occupation-specific clothing, protective clothing or a uniform that is unique to the organisation you work for,” she said.

Ms Anderson said it is a myth that you can claim a standard deduction of $150 without spending money on appropriate clothing or laundry. She said that 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.

Ms Anderson said there are three golden rules to follow which will help taxpayers to get their deductions right.
“One – you have to have spent the money yourself and can’t have been reimbursed, two – the claim must be directly related to earning your income, and three – you need a record to prove it,” she 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 the $150 threshold, taxpayers do need to be able to show how they calculated their deduction.

If you are unsure of what you can claim, contact your Tax Agent for advice and sleep easy this tax season.

Emma Baxter

Tax time tax returns tax agent

Have you lodged your tax yet?

Yes, it’s that time of year again. Tax time! Are you ready for it?

According to the Australian Tax Office, as at 17 July 2017, more than 1.4 million people have already lodged their individual current year tax returns! With an average refund of $3084, these early birds have been rewarded for their promptness.

If you haven’t lodged your return yet, no need to worry, the ATO has given us until the 31 October 2017 to process and lodge your income tax returns. However, if you are registered with a Tax Agent and have a good lodgement history your lodgement day may be able to be extended.

Now is a great time to get organised as you should have received your payment summaries or annual statements from various agencies. Hopefully you have kept accurate records throughout the year the year and remember that now the ATO has its data matching program to capture not only your employment income confirmed by your boss or interest amounts sent by your bank but it includes payments made to contractors in the building and constructions industry, capital gains tax from the sale of your shares, foreign income paid to Australian employees overseas and contractor payments made by government agencies. This is rapidly closing any gaps on omitted or forgotten declared income.

In the last year the ATO cross checked more than 650 million transactions from third parties such as employers and banks to ensure all income was declared and the correct offsets and exemptions are claimed.This year, they contacted about 200,000 taxpayers who had apparent discrepancies in the information they reported in their tax returns. Nine out of ten returns were adjusted as a result the ATO enquiries.

It is important to note the majority of these returns were lodged before the ATO prefill were made available to individuals or tax agents to cross reference and check their clients’ details.

So if you are still itching for that tax refund as early as possible and do not want to wait until late August for the ATO prefill to become available, it might be best to contact a tax agent who can advise correctly of all the required income. Here are some tips that may help you…..

  • Remember all income from multiple jobs
  • Include your bank interest which is easier today to access with online banking
  • Include any foreign income you may have earned, making note that the tax year of the foreign country will most likely differ to the Australia financial year. Your tax agent can assist with calculating this correctly.
  • Wait for those important end of year managed fund statements
  • Check your share registry using your SRN or HIN numbers to not miss any dividends paid.
  • Start collating all your rental property information, ensuring you have all the statements for the required periods e.g. four statements for quarterly water rates or two statements for 6 monthly rates.

If you are worried about where to start with collating your 2017 financial year tax information contact your tax agent they will be more than happy to help.

Emma Baxter