In a statement issued earlier this week, the ATO said it will this year focus on unusually high work-related expense claims across all industries and occupations.
The tax office said it will pay particular attention to claims that have already been reimbursed by employers and those made for private expenses such as travel from home to work.
Mark Chapman, director of tax communications at H&R Block, said the ATO’s focus appears to be much broader this year than in the past, and “should ring alarm bells for all those taxpayers who are claiming for things they should not".
“With an array of technology at their disposal to spot those whose claims appear either unusual or excessive or both, there is a very good chance that the ATO will pick you up if you make a claim that’s incorrect,” he said.
Mr Chapman added he believes the ATO’s focus on home-to-work travel is particularly astute, noting that the tax office will be keen to bring in extra tax dollars to increase government revenue.
While some exceptions exist that allow taxpayers to claim home-to-work travel, Mr Chapman warned these can easily be taken too far.
“These exceptions are particularly valuable for tradies, but the downside is that people stretch the rules too far – or simply do not understand them – and then they run the risk of getting pinged by the taxman when they lodge a return with an incorrect claim,” he said.
“It’s vital at this time of the year that you get good advice around what you can claim and how much you can claim, and it is also vital throughout the year that you keep a good record of what you are spending on work-related items so you can substantiate whatever you claim through your tax return."