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‘Appreciate the creativity’: Bonkers $210,000 ATO claim revealed

Rolled up Australian 450 notes and coins, silhouettes of pedestrians.
The ATO has opened up on some of the more interesting claims it received this year. (Sources: Getty)

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has revealed the three most interesting claims it received in the 2021 financial year, with $18.4 million paid out in refunds so far.

Speaking on the ATO Tax inVoice podcast, ATO communication director David Jepsen shared that 8.6 million tax returns have been lodged. And while millions in refunds have been paid out so far, some were sent back.

“We had a $210,000 deduction for expenses incurred as a stay-at-home parent. And no judgment here, completely understand,” he said, speaking to ATO acting assistant commissioner in marketing and communications Julia Cook.


“There's a lot that stay-at-home parents have had to contend with, but we did have to pick that one up.”

The ATO also saw one meat worker attempt to claim $30,000 in bills, rent and groceries, he added.

“We also had an IT worker who claimed $500 for a coffee machine, which I can definitely understand having put the coffee machine to good use over the past couple of months,” Jepsen said.

“But it is a good reminder about the three golden rules; which are your ticket to understanding what you can and can't claim at tax time.”

Those rules include that whatever a taxpayer claims needs to be related to their work, they need to have proof that they spent the money, and they also need to have paid for it themself - that is, their boss can’t have reimbursed them.

“You’ve got to appreciate the creativity, hey,” Cook commented.

The ATO tax deadline has passed, falling on 1 November.

Australians who are yet to file their returns have been urged to pick up their refunds, with the ATO noting that most returns only take 30 minutes to fill out, and taxpayers are picking up an average refund of $2,490 in the latest tax season.

While the ATO generally won’t penalise taxpayers who are owed a refund, or who are generally good at getting their returns in on time, penalties of up to $1,110 can apply for significantly late returns.

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