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ATO charges man for $24k tax return claim

Anastasia Santoreneos
·2-min read
Judge's gavel on Australian dollar banknotes.
ATO charges man for $24k tax return claim. Source: Getty

A NSW man has been given a criminal conviction and a $1,500 fine, after wrongfully claiming a total of $24,239 in work-related tax expenses, the Australian Taxation Office has revealed.

The man, Mario Seifried lodged two income tax returns for the 2016 and 2017 financial years, and falsely claimed car, travel, self-education and other work-related expenses he hadn’t legitimately incurred, the ATO said.

According to the tax office, Seifried claimed more than $15,000 in travel expenses for an ‘overseas conference’ in the 2016 tax return, but his employer had no record of him doing so.

Records from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection also confirmed he did not leave the country that year.

It was also found the self-education expenses he incurred were actually already paid for by his employer.

How do I stay out of tax trouble?

If you’re going to claim work-related expenses, you need to keep receipts.

The ATO’s “three golden rules” for tax claims are:

  1. You must have spent the money yourself and weren’t reimbursed;

  2. It must directly relate to earning your income; and

  3. You must have a record to prove it.

I’ve missed the tax return deadline. What can I do?

The official tax return deadline for most Australians is 31 October - so you’re more than a month late if you haven’t lodged yet.

If you had engaged a registered tax agent before 31 October, then you don’t need to worry about this deadline: “Most registered tax agents have a special lodgement program and can lodge returns for their clients after the usual 31 October deadline,” the ATO states.

However, if you haven’t lodged your tax return and you haven’t engaged a tax agent, you may cop a $1,110 fine for missing the date, depending on how late you’ve lodged.

If it’s the first or only time you’ve missed the lodgment date, the ATO has said it’s unlikely to impose a fine. It’s also unlikely to penalise you if you’re due to receive a tax refund.

The best way to avoid any penalties? Set yourself a reminder, and lodge early.

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