You'll Need To Be Especially Careful If You're Claiming Work-Related Tax Deductions This Year

Take care with your tax return this year when claiming expenses for your mobile phone, computers and other electronic devices.

The ATO (Australian TAx Office) is taking a hard look at the $19.5 billion in work-related expenses claimed as deductions by individuals.

And incorrect expense claims are becoming easier for the ATO to detect.

For the 2013-14 financial year ending June 30, the ATO will not be limiting its attention to particular occupations.

Instead, attention will be paid to work-related expense claims relating to overnight travel, transporting bulky tools and equipment and the work-related proportion of use for computers, phones or other electronic devices.

“As well as these areas of focus, we will continue to review incorrect or excessive claims for all other work-related expenses” the ATO says.

If you are claiming work-related expense deductions, you must have spent the money, it must be related to your job and you must have a record to prove it.

The ATO warns against double dipping. If an expense has been reimbursed by your employer it cannot be claimed as a deduction and receiving an allowance from your employer does not automatically entitle you to a deduction.

Common mistakes include making claims for home office, mobile phone and computer expenses without any evidence supporting how the claims were apportioned between private expenses and work-related expenses.

This tax time more than 1.4 million taxpayers will have access to the ATO’s new myTax service which will slash the time and effort it takes to complete your tax return.

“MyTax is a new streamlined online tax return designed specifically for people with straightforward tax affairs,” Deputy Commissioner Steve Vesperman said.

“We know people want their tax to be as effortless as possible. MyTax allows you to lodge your return quickly and conveniently on tablets, smart phones and any computer.”

MyTax pre-fills your return with information from your previous tax return and with information provided by your bank, employer, government agencies and others.

“If you wait until early August, when most of this information is available, myTax will do most of the hard work for you. With only 10 main screens to review, your tax return will be easier to complete than ever before,” Mr Vesperman said.

Here are are couple of significant changes since last year’s tax return:

Private Health Insurance rebates will be adjusted and applied to premiums paid on or after April 1, 2014. This means the rebate will be different and you will now have two lines of information you will need to include in your tax return. So make sure you wait for your health insurance statement before doing your tax return. Pre-filling of private health insurance policy details is expected to be available in myTax and e-tax from early August 2014. Read the ATO briefing ‘Health insurance statement needed to complete your tax return’.

The net medical expenses tax offset is being phased out. To be eligible to claim the tax offset this year you must have either received the offset in your 2012-13 income tax assessment, or paid for medical expenses relating to disability aids, attendant care or aged care. There’s a handy online calculator to work this out.

This tax time people who have lodged their tax return and paid $100 or more in income tax now get a tax receipt with their Notice of Assessment.

The tax receipt provides a breakdown of how your tax has contributed to government services such as welfare, health and education. Information on the level of Australian government debt will also be included.

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