Tax time 2019

TAX TIME NEED NOT BE SCARY: The ATO has sophisticated data matching capabilities, but taxpayers have no reason to be afraid of this as long as they are doing the right thing.
TAX TIME NEED NOT BE SCARY: The ATO has sophisticated data matching capabilities, but taxpayers have no reason to be afraid of this as long as they are doing the right thing.

... a tax agent will help you ensure that you're not leaving any money on the table and will ensure you're not breaking any ATO rules in the process.

Liz Russell, senior tax manager at Etax.com.au

Tax time can bring out an element of fear for many people, but this fear is frequently unfounded.

Every year the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) makes announcements about how it plans to crack down on work-related expenses because taxpayers are claiming more than they are entitled to.

This makes some taxpayers question their tax returns.

Are they claiming the right items? Have they claimed too much?

While it is true the ATO has increasingly sophisticated data matching capabilities, taxpayers have no reason to be afraid of them as long as they are doing the right thing.

Liz Russell, senior tax manager at Etax.com.au, said honesty was key with the ATO, adding there was no reason to be afraid, rather, it was quite the opposite.

"If any taxpayer has a legitimate work-related item to claim, and they have evidence for the expense, then they should claim it," she said.

"No matter how high or low it is - they should claim what they're entitled to.

"If the ATO investigates further it doesn't mean you have done the wrong thing, they are just making sure the facts check out."

Liz said people who were unsure about a particular claim should seek advice from their tax agent.

"Remember, it's the ATO's job to collect revenue, not to help you get a big refund. On the other hand, a tax agent will help you ensure that you're not leaving any money on the table and will ensure you're not breaking any ATO rules in the process," she said.

Liz also offered some simple, helpful tips to help ensure there was no hold-up once taxpayers had completed their returns and lodged them with the ATO.

  1. Always list your spouse.
  2. Don't make big (or round) claims for deductions you have no receipts for.
  3. Keep your personal details up to date (eg. did you get married during the year and update your surname with the ATO?).
  4. Don't forget to include income from your side hustles or share economy work.

"If you do not get these right, they can all land you in hot water with the ATO, or delay your refund," Liz said.