Puppies and parties and smokes, oh my! Aussies try pulling fast ones on the ATO

Taxes are one of life’s only two certainties – but for ATO staff reviewing Australia’s weird and wacky deductions claims, the contents of each new file to fall across their desk is anything but certain.

Taxes are one of life’s only two certainties – but for ATO staff reviewing Australia’s weird and wacky deductions claims, the contents of each new file to fall across their desk is anything but certain.

Despite countless warnings throughout June and July not to make inappropriate claims, the tax office inevitably receives a handful of weird and wonderful ones no reasonable accountant would ever condone.

In some cases, these claims are honest mistakes – many tradies have been caught out claiming travel expenses after colleagues told them carrying tools makes transport a legitimate work expense.

Other claims are simply overly optimistic, like one parent who tried to claim a Lego set they’d bought as a gift for their child.

Although these sorts of claims are undoubtedly a headache for tax agents – and roughly, in the past been a $31 billion blight on the public purse – they’re also a great source of amusement for anyone looking for a distraction from calculating work expenses.

Here are some of the best.

Puppy love

Man’s best friend is accountants’ pain in the neck – Mr Taxman founder Dr Adrian Raftery recently told The Australian that every year, someone comes to him trying to claim their dog expenses as ‘home security’.

Dog-related costs can sometimes be claimed when the animal is genuinely protecting someone’s premises.

But in this case, Dr Raftery had his doubts about the effectiveness the Cavoodle puppy in question would have in deterring ne’er do wells.

 This fierce Cavoodle valiantly guards a toy monkey, unaware his service is not tax deductible. Source: AIA Breeds

Smokin’ in the rain/Rain, hail, or fines

Another rather bold claim came from an office worker who tried to put both sunscreen and an umbrella down as work expenses. 

Again, both of these items are legitimate under some circumstances – namely when an employee is required to work outdoors, in harsh conditions, as part of their job.

Our intrepid office worker is not one of these employees, however. As it turned out, they purchased both items because they had to trudge to a nearby park each day to indulge their cigarette habit.

In another example of smokers being burned by the tax office, one taxpayer was caught out after trying to claim a pack of cigarettes itself – arguing they served a practical purpose by helping to alleviate stress.

The ATO sent his pack claim packing.

Laundering their tax dollars

Clothing expenses are another common thread among illegitimate and illogical claims.

Take for example the case of an employee who told the tax office they washed their work uniform roughly 60 times per week. That’s approximately 3,120 times a year.

For what it’s worth, men’s lifestyle magazine GQ says the average office shirt can be worn three to four times before needing a wash

Assuming our tidy taxpayer followed this (seemingly lax) rule, they’d have to have worn their uniform roughly 10,000 times in a single year – certainly enough to draw the suspicion of the ATO.

On a separate occasion, a childcare worker attempted to claim more than $9000 in clothing expenses – that also raised some eyebrows among tax doyens.

So as tax time rolls around again, remember: You can’t claim the whole kit and cavoodle.



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