The ATO is offering a concession this year but an expert has warned taxpayers that adopting the offer would be a costly error.
The ATO is offering a concession this year but an expert has warned taxpayers that adopting the offer would be a costly error.

This tax mistake could cost you hundreds of dollars

Australians are being urged to not be seduced into accepting the increased flat rate on offer this tax season.

The Australian Taxation Office has simplified the claims process for the masses forced to work from home during the coronavirus lockdown by boosting the standard hourly rate this financial year from 52 cents per working hour to 80 cents.

But National Tax and Accountants' Association spokesperson Andrew Gardiner says this will result in hundreds of dollars being trimmed from what the taxpayer is owed.

"The concession covers off heating, cooling, electricity and then payments to do with your computer, printer, cartridges, and paper," the senior tax manager told news.com.au.

"People need to be very careful with that concession because it is only 80 cents per hour and when you factor that in over a standard 40-hour week, we're only talking $32.

"And if you factor that in over the period of COVID-19, it's not a massive claim. People need to be careful they're not simplifying their affairs by adopting this approach at the detriment of a much bigger claim."

WFH has been the abbreviation of 2020.
WFH has been the abbreviation of 2020.

Opting for the flat rate means the taxpayer will forgo their right to claim the new desk, chair or computer they splashed cash on when the pandemic forced the majority of the workforce to abandon their office.

"Once you go down the path of adopting the ATO's 80 cents per hour claim, you then forfeit your right to separately claim for home office expenses like electricity which extends to the internet and home phone.

"It also then removes the right to claim depreciation on your desk, computer and consumables like print cartridges and paper."

CONFUSION OVER WHAT TO CLAIM

The unique working environment caused by the global pandemic has created confusion over what can and can't be claimed.

"There has been suggestions that people can claim additional toilet paper which they can't; or they can claim their food because now they're working from home, which is not claimable as well.

"The expenses that are available to people who are working from home are isolated to the cost directly related to their employment while they're working from home."

SO WHAT DO I NEED?

The ATO will need to see the number of hours you worked from home and a diary of a four-week period showing the pattern of expenses, Mr Gardiner said.

Receipts will then need to be provided for each item you intend to claim.

"The taxpayers who are prepared to take the time to embrace the record keeping, the four week diary and the illustration of their use will find themselves hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of dollars better off," he said.

Originally published as Tax mistake could cost you hundreds


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