ATO warns on ‘copy/pasting’ claims

The Tax Office has issued a warning to taxpayers who opt for “copy-pasting” work-related expense claims, like those accrued for travelling between work sites, or laundering uniforms, while they have been working from home.

“You can’t simply copy and paste previous year’s claims without evidence. But we know some of these unusual claims may be legitimate. So, if you explain your claim with evidence, you have nothing to fear.”

Around 8.5 million people claimed nearly $19.4 billion in work-related expenses in their 2020 tax returns.

“We know many people started working from home during COVID-19, so a jump in these claims is expected,” Mr Loh said. “But, if you are working at home, we would not expect to see claims for travelling between work sites, laundering uniforms or business trips.”

If your specific duties require physical contact or close proximity to customers or clients, or your job involves cleaning premises, you may be able to claim items such as gloves, face masks, sanitiser, or anti-bacterial spray.

This includes industries like healthcare, cleaning, aviation, hair and beauty, retail and hospitality.

To claim your PPE, you’ll need to have purchased the item for use at work, paid for it yourself, and not been reimbursed. You also need a record to support your claim – a receipt is best.

A “temporary shortcut method” for working from home expenses is available for the full 2020/21 financial year.

This allows an all-inclusive rate of 80 cents per hour for every hour people work from home, rather than needing to separately calculate costs for specific expenses.

“All you need to do is multiply the hours worked at home by 80 cents, keeping a record such as a timesheet, roster or diary entry that shows the hours you worked,” the ATO says.

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