ATO clamps down on work-related deductions

I have a confession to make.

Last year, when I was filling out my tax return, I made a claim for washing my work uniform.

Except… okay, here comes my confession… I don’t have a work uniform! I am required to wear black pants and a white top, but it’s not a specific uniform per se, making my claim for $78 completely fraudulent. (I based that deduction on $1.50 per week, for those who are interested).


If we’re honest, we can all admit to fudging the numbers on our tax returns just a little.

But some people have been doing the dodge when it comes to work laundry claims, and the ATO has quite rightly had enough of it.

Like the woman who claimed almost $2,000 worth of retail therapy as she “represented her company at work functions and awards nights and was required to dress a certain way”.

Or – and this one takes the cake – the young man who worked in the car detailing industry, who claimed work-related laundry expenses of more than $20,000 per year over two years. He confessed that he had worked out his laundry expenses by valuing his personal time at $227/hour.

It’s just ridiculous enough to make you chuckle, until you realise that this joker got away with it for the first year!

We’re not sure of his tax rate, but if we assume he worked full-time, he likely pocketed around 30% of that $20,000. That’s $7,000 worth of taxpayers dollars!

His over-inflated claim was in stark contrast to the tax office’s official method of calculation, which is to allow for $1 per load of washing of work-related clothing (or actual cost for dry cleaning and laundromats, provided you can show receipts).

The moral of the story? Tax time is just around the corner, and Big Data is making easier and easier for the tax office to catch tax cheats.

Even the ones like me, who think they’re doing no harm by claiming a “tiny” tax deduction on laundry.

As the ATO’s Kath Anderson says, it may not seem like a large amount of money, but “when you multiply it over millions of taxpayers, it adds up to a lot. And besides, no matter how small, other Australians shouldn’t be expected to wear your over-claiming.”

Proceed with your less-than-honest claims at your own peril!