Avoiding a COVID-19 shortcut could boost your tax refund

“It could be potentially several times larger, depending on the things you claim.

“If you’ve got all your records, if you’ve kept all your receipts, it is worth having a chat to your tax agent to potentially itemise all the individual items you’ve spent money on. It will usually pay off with a bigger deduction.”

Saucy claims

H&R Block helps more than 750,000 clients complete their tax return each year, a process that regularly throws up some challenging or unusual deduction claims.

“We’ve had a few clients who’ve tried to claim cosmetic surgery as a tax deduction, particularly for people who work in professions that rely on their looks, like in the entertainment industry, television personalities and models,” Mr Chapman said.

“Unfortunately that kind of thing is not claimable. The ATO takes a very hard line around any sort of medical procedure, especially where it’s a voluntary thing. They are not deductable.”

He said in 2019 the firm had helped a professional clown claim a full costume, including a red nose.

“We’ve also had clients, particularly in the adult entertainment industry, who have been able to claim some fairly unusual deductions. The tools of the trade kind they use for their work.”

New Tax Office figures released on Thursday showed more than $1 billion in tax refunds were issued in the first two weeks of tax time 2020.

As of July 14, more than 457,000 individual refunds have been completed, totalling more than $1.08 billion.

The average refund so far this year is $2365.

At the same time in 2019, the ATO had issued 389,000 individual refunds, totalling more than $879 million.

“Australians have already made 1.7 million individual lodgments this tax time, a 12 per cent increase on the same time last year,” Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar said.

“The return of $1 billion to the Australians is welcome news during the current COVID-19 pandemic and will provide a great cash boost for the economy.”

This week the Coalition released data showing about 4.3 million low- and middle-income workers around the country were on track to receive a full $1080 tax rebate.

About 10 million people will receive some of the newly increased low- and middle-income tax offset payment.

“As ever, it is important Australians take care and not rush their returns as failing to include income, overclaiming deductions or not updating personal details can cause delay in having refunds paid,” Mr Sukkar said.

“Australians wanting to check the progress of their return can do so by logging onto myGov and clicking through to the ATO or contacting their registered tax agent.”