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Claiming clothing this tax time?

The Australian Tax Office (ATO) is cracking down on claims for work-related clothing and laundry expenses this tax time.

Last year total claims for work-related clothing and laundry expenses totalled nearly $1.8 billion. The ATO has acknowledged that many of these claims are legitimate. However, it is unlikely that half of all taxpayers would have been required to wear uniforms, occupation-specific clothing or protective clothing.

The Tax Office is in the view that many taxpayers are either making mistakes or deliberately over-claiming. Common mistakes that are observed include:
– Claiming for something without having spent the money
– Not being able to explain the basis for how the claim was calculated
– Claiming ineligible clothing (eligible clothing is occupation-specific, protective or uniform)

Another concern facing the ATO is the number of claims which totalled exactly $150. This amount is the threshold that requires taxpayers to keep detailed records. The ATO is reminding taxpayers the $150 limit is not an automatic entitlement for everyone; it is in place to reduce recordkeeping burden.

Normal clothing is another deduction under scrutiny. Claiming for normal clothing such as a suit or black pants is not legitimate, even if you only wear it to work, or your employer requires you to wear a particular colour and so on.

The ATO uses sophisticated technology to analyse claims and compare them to other taxpayers in similar occupations and earning similar income.

If a taxpayer cannot substantiate their claim, they should prepare to be refused and potentially face a penalty for failing to take reasonable care when submitting their return.

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News

Changes to FBT for Utes

September 14, 2018

The Australian Tax Office (ATO) has released draft guidelines changing its previous stance on Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT) for utes. Amendments originated from reports that dodgy tax returns were responsible for a loss of $8.7 billion in income tax due to wrongful claims. Failure to comply with new requirements listed below may result in a 20 percent FBT imposed on the cost of the vehicle.

The requirement of a logbook
New rules require employers to ensure their workers using these vehicles keep detailed logbooks. Whether the logbooks are electronic or hard copy, it is vital that the process be effective for returns lodged in the 2019 FBT year, when the law takes effect. Employers receive confirmation via email from employees using the vehicles at the end of the 2019 FBT year with their logbook including all regulated diversions and private use.

Diversions and private use rules
The guidelines introduce capped limits for the log books to comply with. Professional travel means that the vehicle must not deviate more than 2km from its usual route. However, 1000 km of non-work related travel is allowed, provided that there is no single trip exceeding 200 km. Such regulations provide greater flexibility than previous guidelines. What the ATO deems “minor” or “irregular trips” like carpooling the children to and from school or an occasional trip to visit relatives will not render you non-compliant so long as it is recorded as non-professional use.