‘Bizarre’ tax time claims revealed

Cigarettes and luxurious overseas holidays are just some of the things Australians have tried to get over the line at tax time, which is fast approaching for 2017.

Accounting franchise H&R Block did a sweeping survey of its offices after tax time last year to see what “bizarre deductions" Aussie taxpayers thought they were entitled to.

One taxpayer wanted to claim sunscreen and an umbrella, on the basis that his workplace forced him to go across the road to have a smoke break.

“He felt he needed an umbrella for the rain and sunscreen for sun,” H&R Block’s director of communications Mark Chapman said.

Another person tried to claim the cost of cigarettes, because he regarded smoking as a necessary form of stress relief from his job.

A hairdresser also tried her luck with travelling expenses. Usually, you can’t claim the cost of travel to and from work, unless you’re carrying bulky tools or equipment.

Her definition of bulky tools and equipment were scissors and clippers.

“They are certainly sharp, but they don’t qualify as bulky,” Mr Chapman observed.

A bouncer also seemingly over-estimated the scope of his work and tried to claim a martial arts course.

In an effort to “research his craft”, a tradesperson tried to claim a four-week holiday in Europe.

“All he came back with was pictures and he learnt a bit of French,” Mr Chapman said.

Although seemingly trivial, taxpayers can land themselves in hot water for trying to push such claims through.

One other classic area where taxpayers get it wrong is self-education expenses.

“The ATO looks very closely at self-education deductions,” Mr Chapman said.

“If the course is relevant to what your job is now, it is usually claimable, as a basic rule. If it’s something that is going to enable you to prosper in maybe more senior role later down the line, then you’re getting into some grey areas.”

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