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Tim Tams, Dog Food, Edible Underwear, Toilet Paper – The Bizarre Tax Deductions Aussies Are Trying To Claim

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If you think Tim Tams, cigarettes and toilet paper are legitimate work-related deductions on your tax return, be warned: the Australian tax authorities are here to help.

The ATO will begin investigating claims and filings from July 7 and expects to begin paying refunds from July 16.

Aussies have a long history of questionable deductions sought in tax time, and the ATO is likely to dust its index of illegal and downright bizarre claims.

The ATO will begin investigating claims with returns filed from July 7 and expects to begin paying refunds from July 16. But it has warned it is looking into questionable claims for work-related costs. Gym membership is one such claim

An Australian taxpayer claimed that dog food provided to his pet was a work-related expense

An Australian taxpayer claimed that dog food provided to his pet was a work-related expense

Some of the weirder claims that Aussies have tried to get money back from the ATO include dog food, dental work, gambling losses, toilet paper, cigarettes, vaping and vacations that not only had nothing to do with work, they were completely faked.

In 2020, a NSW man was fined $1,500 and a criminal conviction for falsely claiming a fake vacation.

The bank manager claimed more than $15,000 in travel expenses for ‘overseas conferences’ even though he did not leave the country that fiscal year, the ATO explained.

Another taxpayer claimed a fantasy vacation that never even happened, claiming it was for a convention

Another taxpayer claimed a fantasy vacation that never even happened, claiming it was for a convention

Even though you need these, they are and will never be tax deductible as work expenses

Even though you need these, they are and will never be tax deductible as work expenses

While the rules are clear – a deduction must be related to earning an income and we need proof that the amount has been spent – Australians can’t resist trying our luck at tax time.

“As obvious as it is, people are trying to bend these rules,” said a statement from ITP Accounting Professionals.

“In the column ‘other’ expenses, many questionable claims are made, including unauthorized items such as wedding reception costs, dental costs, childcare, gambling loss, alcohol and even cigarettes.”

ATO Assistant Commissioner Tim Loh ([pictured) said toilet paper, tea, coffee and Tim Tams are examples of personal expenses that are not related to earning an income but have been claimed before

ATO assistant commissioner Tim Loh ([pictured) said toilet paper, tea, coffee and Tim Tams are examples of personal expenses that are not related to earning an income but have been claimed before

Coffee may help you to get started for the work day but it isn't a work-related expense

Coffee may help you to get started for the work day but it isn’t a work-related expense

ATO assistant commissioner Tim Loh said toilet paper, tea, coffee and Tim Tams are examples of personal expenses that are not related to the earning of income but have been claimed before.

He added that people need to avoid ‘copying and pasting’ deductions from previous years.

What was valid one year may not be true of the past 12 months – because, for instance, your employer may have reimbursed you. 

Aussies have a long history of dubious deductions sought at tax time and the ATO is likely to be dusting off its index of illegal and frankly bizarre claims. Tim Tams are one such strange claim

Aussies have a long history of dubious deductions sought at tax time and the ATO is likely to be dusting off its index of illegal and frankly bizarre claims. Tim Tams are one such strange claim

People try to make work-related claims that are real ‘doozies’, according to Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand tax leader Michael Croker. 

Dog food, claimed as a ‘security cost’, was one example, he told news.com.au.

‘While feeding a guard dog may be deductible in some cases, your household pet doesn’t quite make the cut,’ Mr Croker said.

Much of the time people’s claims are the result of not understanding the law.  

For instance, it’s a common misconception that personal self improvement is tax deductible because it often seems to help with employment.

That means your gym membership, yoga class, meditation app and tooth whitener are not tax deductions.

Taxpayers have even attempted to claim cigarettes as a work-related expense

Taxpayers have even attempted to claim cigarettes as a work-related expense

One type of deduction often overlooked that is often legitimate is education.

New data has revealed at least 30 per cent of Australians are spending up to $1,936 on employment-related learning every year, a cost that is tax deductible.

Accounting for the other 70 per cent of Aussies who don’t spend any of their money on personal education, the average spent each year is about $587.

The average return for Australians is $2,600 according to blog taxback.com. 

The deadline for lodging your tax return for the fiscal year July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022 is 31 October, 2022.

Most people won’t receive their annual Pay As You Go payment summary from their employer until July 14.

The ATO said in 2022 it aims to finalise returns within 12 days of receiving them.

The deductions Aussies CAN make … and what we’ve tried to claim

There are three golden rules set from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to determine legitimate deductions as work-related expenses:

  • The expense must directly relate to earning your income. 
  • You must have already incurred the expense
  • You must have the records to prove it

Source: ITP Accounting Professionals

Items that Aussies have tried (and failed) to claim include: 

  • Alcohol 
  • Chocolate biscuits 
  • Cigarettes and vapes
  • Coffee 
  • Dental work 
  • Dog food
  • Gambling losses 
  • Gym memberships 
  • Holidays
  • Meditation and yoga apps and sessions 
  • Self-improvement programs and apps
  • Streaming services ie. Netflix, Disney and Stan 
  • Sunscreen
  • Tea
  • Toilet paper 
  • Tooth whitener 
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