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ATO Targets Home Office Claims & Real Estate Deductions

ATO Targets Home Office Claims & Real Estate Deductions

Australian residents are being alerted to tighten up their tax return filing, particularly with the deductions claimed for home offices and rental property expenses, as the Australian Tax Office (ATO) sharpens its scrutiny on such declarations.

The ATO has flagged three areas of concern where errors frequently occur: erroneous work-related deductions, amplified claims on rental properties, and omissions in declared income. Assistant Commissioner Rob Thomson emphasizes that even though some inaccuracies are not deliberate, taxpayers should be extra cautious to avoid penalties.

In the last tax season, above eight million Australians lodged work-related expenses, with a significant portion being for home office use. The ATO has revised the way it calculates home office expenses, introducing a new fixed rate and specifying what qualifies for deduction. Clear and detailed documentation to support claims is now mandatory, including records of hours worked from home and associated expenditures such as utility bills.

"If you plan to replicate last year’s home office deduction without the proper documentation, be prepared for a follow-up from us," warns Thomson. He insists that to prevent disqualification, taxpayers must ensure they follow three critical rules: personal expenses must be incurred without reimbursement, the expense should be tied to income generation, and tangible evidence like a receipt is necessary to validate the claim.

Concerning rental property owners, the ATO reports widespread discrepancies in tax returns, with many landlords wrongly logging their income tax. Maintenance and repair claims are a particular focus, with Thomson advising against exaggerating these to compensate for higher rental incomes. Legitimate immediate deductions include routine repairs; however, initial restorations or improvements like kitchen renovations fall under capital works and are deductible over time.

Thomson encourages property owners to thoroughly review their documentation before submitting their tax returns, and if needed, consult a registered tax agent for accurate deduction filings.

To ensure the accuracy of their tax filings, Thomson advocates Australians to avoid hurrying their tax return submissions at the beginning of July. He notes that errors often stem from rushing and neglecting to include all sources of income such as bank interest, dividends, and additional government payments. Taxpayers are advised to wait until pre-filled data is available, ensuring completeness and reducing the likelihood of amendments post-submission.

"While many are eager to check off their tax return early, exercising a bit of patience can be the key to getting your tax return right. Confirm that your employment income statement has been finalized and that your pre-filled information is comprehensive in myTax before lodging," Thomson concludes.

Published:Monday, 6th May 2024
Source: Paige Estritori

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