Huge tax mistake costing millions of Australians $341: ‘Regret’

Tax return and people

Half of Australians say they end up losing their receipts come tax time and it could cost them billions. (Source: AAP/Getty)

Australians are losing billions of dollars in tax deductions due to lost or damaged receipts. But one tax expert said there are still ways to claim if you find yourself in a tough situation.

Millions of Australians will have experienced this “receipt regret”, and the vast majority of taxpayers still collect physical receipts to claim at tax time. But this also means that receipts can easily go unclaimed.

The accounting director and tax agent of Tax Invest, Belinda Raso, said Yahoo Finance People not keeping their receipts was the “biggest mistake” he saw when filing taxes.


More than half (59 per cent) of Australians ended up losing receipts entirely, according to new research by Intuit QuickBooks, and 42 per cent ended up forgetting where they kept them.

About half said they often had faded, torn or illegible receipts when it came time to file taxes, while a fifth said they ended up losing receipts in the wash. According to the research, this is costing Australians $7 billion in unclaimed deductions or around $341 for each taxpayer.

“Say to yourself, ‘If I didn’t have this job or this business, would I have gone out and bought this?’ And in most cases it will be a claimable deduction,” Raso said.

“Then when you get home, take a photo of that receipt and save it to a file on your phone for 2024 taxes or now for 2025 taxes. At the end of the year, your account can say yes or no.”

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If you purchased a work-related item and lost the receipt, Raso recommends contacting the supplier first to see if they have a copy of it. Places like Bunnings and Officeworks often email copies of receipts.

If you are unable to obtain a copy, you may be able to use your bank statement as proof of purchase, but you will need to include some additional information.

“Take a photocopy or photo of that bank statement. But in addition to that, you should write down what item you bought, how it was used in your work and why you bought it,” Raso said. Yahoo Finance.

“Then, for bonus points, take a photo of the actual item to prove you have it and then you can even go to the supplier’s website and just take a screenshot.”

The Australian Tax Office (ATO) allows you to claim total work expenses of $300 or less without receipts. However, this does not include claims for automobile expenses, subsistence allowances, prize transport premiums or travel allowances.

Raso stressed that this was not an “automatic deduction” and warned that the tax office would closely examine this deduction this year.

“You should still have purchased the items and be able to explain what you purchased, why, and how you use it in your work,” Raso explained.

The ATO also allows you to claim laundry expenses of $150 or less without receipts. However, this is included within the $300 limit.

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