The ‘good tax agents’
The ATO has been making much of the ‘individuals tax gap’ – the amount of tax that taxpayers don’t pay due to overclaimed deductions. The Commissioner has gone on the record stating that the majority of overclaimed deductions are through agent-lodged returns. Tax agents. Like WLF.
Well, maybe not like WLF. We have always held a good standing with the ATO, and we don’t find too many of our clients being subjected to audit or having their claims rejected. So, what makes us ‘good’ tax agents?
Our view is always that you should claim everything that you can legitimately claim under the law. So that means, when you bring in your tax stuff, we’ll ask about expenses that you have and make sure that you have the right records in order to be able to support the claims you make. A note of caution for this year: the ATO is taking a closer look at claims by individuals so we’re going to be extra careful which may mean a few more questions from us to be sure everything is recorded properly.
We don’t simply claim up to $300 for work-related expenses – even though this is the limit that the ATO say is ok to claim if you don’t have receipts. The reason for that is that while it’s ok to not have receipts, you still need to be able to prove that you’ve spent the money. It’s not a standard deduction. We don’t have those in the Australian tax system. So we will ask you if you have something to show that you’ve spent the money. We always recommend you keep your receipts, but if you haven’t, and you’re not claiming any more than $300, bank records will usually do.
WLF is not going to ask you to prove to us that you’ve spent the money. We don’t audit your tax records before lodging your tax return – and we believe you when you say you’ve spent the money. However, we take our role as tax agents seriously, after all, we are your agent with the ATO (and not the other way around!) and key to this is making sure that what you do is within the law.
This is what has given us our good standing with the ATO. A pragmatic, practical approach that means our clients are doing the right thing but still maximising what they are entitled to.