Petrol, Netflix And RATs: Here’s All The WFH Expenses The ATO Is Cracking Down On This Tax Szn

Pheandra from real housewives of Atlanta saying "show me the receipts" in relation to WFH expenses in Australian tax refunds.

Tax savvy girlies beware: the ATO is cracking down on those sneaky, not-really-for-work-but-I’ll-try claims they know you make so here’s the BTS tea on what to watch out for.

We all know petrol is expensive AF right now but if you’re thinking of claiming it on tax when you actually work from home, think again.

The ATO is keeping a close eye on car expenses because some naughty people are over-claiming travel expenses to balance out the wild cost of living right now.

Don’t be shady with your car/petrol/travel expense claims

Because claims of WFH expenses are expected to rise due to the pandemic, expenses relating to travelling for work — petrol, public transport, laundry and uniform costs — should be going down.

If the ATO finds both your travel and WFH expenses are high, they’ll give your claims a suss. Like with everything in life, keep those receipts handy to avoid looking like a shady binch.

“What we are seeing is people continuing to claim car and travel expenses at pre-pandemic levels,” ATO assistant commissioner Tim Loh told the ABC.

“We do expect car and travel expenses to go down quite significantly because if you’ve been working from home, you can’t be at two places at once.”

RATs are not all tax deductible, actually

Not every RAT you bought during the pandemic is tax deductible, so make sure you’re across the rules when you claim them.

“You must have spent the money yourself and not [have been] reimbursed by [your] employer and it must be related for work-related purposes,” Loh said regarding RATs.

“So, if you’re working out whether you can go with your mates to Byron Bay, that’s not going to be a deductible expense for that rapid test.”

Tax deductible RATs are only for work, not for a fishing trip with the boyz!

Netflix is not always an expense either

Loh also said people should keep proper records of the hours they’ve worked from home because some internet and phone costs should be “private” expenses, like streaming Netflix or FaceTiming your friends. Unless you specifically have to do that for work, obviously.

For girlies who love receipts, keeping an in-depth record of every phone call, text, and other internet usage will be a piece of cake. I know you have folders tracking every move of your bae.

For us mortals, don’t panic. There are shortcuts you can use where instead of calculating your specific WFH costs, you can just claim a set amount per hour for all your running expenses. The good thing about this method is it’s easy. The bad thing is you could be entitled to more than the set amount.

Me trying to remember what I had for breakfast today. 

“The best thing to do is check out our ATO website, where we’ve got some comparison calculators, which can work out what you can and can’t claim and work out what the best result is for your particular circumstances,” Loh told the ABC.

If you’re getting that bread from Uber, lodge it

The ATO has requested data from companies like Uber, Deliveroo, Airtasker and Airbnb to identify workers who aren’t lodging their income.

If you work in the gig economy, you need to report that cash. Especially because you can still make deductions on it — think about things like bike repairs, petrol costs, car servicing.

Plus, not reporting that income has some serious consequences including “interest on your tax bill and criminal and administrative penalties” according to accounting body CPA Australia’s senior manager of tax policy Elinor Kasapidis.

FYI, JobKeeper also counts as income that you need to lodge for tax.

You have to report your crypto gains and losses too

According to the ABC around 600,000 taxpayers are trading in crypto. What they might not realise though, is all this needs to be recorded in their tax lodgement.

“When you’re exchanging one cryptocurrency for another … for example, trading Bitcoin for Ether — that’s a taxable transaction,” Loh told the ABC.

“And if you’re using cryptocurrency to obtain goods or services, that is also a taxable transaction.

“Make sure that you’ve got all the information so you can kind of work out those capital gains and capital losses.”