In July and August, close to 5.8 million tax returns were lodged by either tax agents or by taxpayers themselves, with over $11.9 billion in refunds processed, $270 million more compared with the same time period last year.
However, according to ATO commissioner Kath Anderson, the Tax Office had to correct more than 112,000 tax returns, totalling more than $53 million.
“Our investment in advanced analytics is allowing us to closely scrutinise more returns than ever before, and make immediate adjustments where taxpayers have made a mistake. In the first half of tax time, the ATO’s analytics and compliance models automatically adjusted more than 112,000 tax returns to correct mistakes in returns, totalling more than $53 million,” said Ms Anderson.
According to Ms Anderson, most of the adjustments were “simple mistakes”, including not declaring all income, and over-claiming deductions.
“Most of the income adjustments we are making at the moment are for simple mistakes, like leaving out bank interest or salary and wages. But for some, it seems their priority was on generating a refund rather than getting it right, as they have deliberately ignored the pre-fill information that was available at the time of lodgement,” she said.
“We are also seeing some taxpayers over-claiming deductions, with insurance premiums emerging as a new area where taxpayers need assistance. Just to be clear, premiums for income protection insurance are tax deductible, but premiums for other insurances like life, permanent disability and trauma are not.
“We are happy to see that so many taxpayers are confident to lodge early. However we are seeing some people continue to make simple mistakes or try to game the system to secure a refund.”
Earlier this year, the ATO launched one of its biggest ever education campaigns for taxpayers, highlighting some common mistakes per profession.
For example, police officers are not allowed to claim a deduction on haircuts, grooming, or fitness expenses, even though they may be covered by specific regulations.
Flight attendants can claim overnight travel costs where they have not been reimbursed but cannot claim a deduction for things like hairdressing, cosmetics, and hair and skin care products.
Further, workers within the building and construction industry cannot claim clothes or shoes that are not uniforms or are not designed to provide you with sufficient protection from the risk of injury at your worksite, even if the item is called ‘workwear’ or ‘tradie wear’ by the supplier.
“We want every taxpayer to have the information they need to know whether they can make a claim, to get it right, and know what records they need to keep. Understanding what you can and cannot claim will help ensure that your tax return is processed quickly and any refund is paid as soon as possible,” said Ms Anderson.