Penalty for unsubstantiated work-related deduction claims - 11th November 2013

The AAT has recently affirmed a decision of the Tax Commissioner to impose a penalty on an individual equal to 50 per cent of the tax shortfall amount arising from deduction claims for work-related expenses that were unsubstantiated.

The individual worked as a cars salesman and in his 2011-2012 tax return made various claims for work-related expenses amounting to around $34,300. The Tax Commissioner determined that most of the claims were unsubstantiated and imposed a penalty of around $6,100, representing 50 per cent of the tax shortfall. The Commissioner also told the AAT that the individual had made similar claims in previous years.

The individual did not dispute that the claims were unsubstantiated, but argued that the penalty was severe and that he was unable to pay an outstanding portion of the penalty of $1,400. The AAT noted, among other things, that the individual did not retain invoices or receipts, or provide satisfactory evidence to substantiate the claims. The AAT was of the view that the individual's conduct was more serious than mere failure to take reasonable care, and held that the penalty imposed was appropriate.

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