Australian Real Estate Agents Claimed A Monster Average Of $8000 In Work Expenses

Real estate sales: Shutterstock

Australian real estate agents claimed an average of over $7,800 each in work-related expenses in their 2010-11 tax returns — the highest among the 10 professions that claimed most from the ATO.

As if you needed another reason to hate them.

The 51,070 real estate agents who made claims for work-related expenses claimed a total of almost $400 million between them.

That’s a lot of clipboards, junk mail flyers, and coffees with clients.

Their average claim of $7,818 each was far ahead of the next two groups – carpenters and joiners ($4,964), and advertising and sales managers ($4,757).

According to Australian Taxation Office data, the top 10 occupations accounted for almost a quarter of the $18 billion Australians claimed as work-related expenses in 2010-11.

Taxpayers need to be able to produce receipts or other written evidence if they are claiming more than $300 in work-related expenses in total.

Real estate sales agents claimed between 1.6 and 4.3 times as much, per person, than others in the top 10 occupations, with agents’ work-related expense claims totalling $399 million.

Their jobs often involve a lot of travel, the costs of which are all deductable.

Advertising and sales managers topped the list of occupations making the most work-related claims in total dollar terms, with 133,835 individuals claiming a total of $637 million in tax deductions ($4,757 each).

The Tax Office is keeping a particularly close watch on incorrect claims from sales and marketing managers as well as building construction project managers, supervisors and labourers this year, due to “previous claim patterns and behaviours”.

Here are the top 10 occupations by total amount of work-related expense claims in 2010-11:

“The ATO often sees people who do not separate private expenses from legitimate work-related ones. You should claim deductions only for things you paid for with your own money to help you earn an income,” the ATO says.

The tax office says people tend to make the most mistakes when claiming work-related travel expenses, which “must be directly related to your employment as an employee and meet the ATO’s requirements for an allowable deduction”.

“Receiving a travel allowance does not mean you are automatically entitled to claim a deduction equal to the reasonable amount set by the ATO each year, or another amount equal to the allowance you have received.

A deduction can only be claimed for the amount that you actually spent on your accommodation, meals or incidentals.

The ATO’s reasonable amounts are the maximum that can be claimed without having to keep receipts, but you may still need to satisfy the ATO that you actually spent the amount,” it says.

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