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Stats blow ATO expenses crusade ‘out of the water’

The ATO’s newfound fight against work-related expenses isn’t even supported by their own figures and may be completely unfounded, according to a national tax and accounting network. 

News Jack Derwin and Katarina Taurian 19 April 2017
— 1 minute read

Work-related expenses had been in the spotlight from as early June last year with the ATO, when it started releasing materials explaining how to correctly claim deductions. Travel expenses in particular were raised as a red flag item last tax time. 

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In recent weeks, commissioner Chris Jordan pointed to dodgy work-related claims as one of the biggest sources of revenue leakage.

However, H&R Block communications director Mark Chapman believes there may not be a firm basis for these claims. 

Mr Chapman said the ATO’s crusade wasn’t supported by the 2014-15 figures it released last week that show the average deductions' claim of $2,531 was only slightly up in previous years.

“The ATO has been making a lot of noise recently around supposed systematic non-compliance in relation to work-related expenses, but these figures blow that out of the water,” Mr Chapman told Accountants Daily.

“There's absolutely no evidence of any systematic non-compliance in relation to work-related deductions, and the average deductions' figure of $2,531 certainly doesn't support that argument,” he added.

Instead, Mr Chapman suggested the ATO had ulterior motives in going after work-related expenses.

“The ATO, before a government committee a couple of weeks ago, was forcefully arguing that there is systematic non-compliance in relation to work-related expenses, but that seems to be a co-ordinated strategy linked to possible budget changes,” he said.

Having risen only around $100 in previous years, the noise that the Taxation Office was generating was unjustified, Mr Chapman said.

“Over eight-and-a-half million people claimed work-related expenses, so you don't get any indication from these figures that there is any systematic rorting going on [and] that figure simply isn't big enough to justify that; it's not really moved year on year.”

Stats blow ATO expenses crusade ‘out of the water’
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