The most important tax tip you need to know

- June 14, 2024 2 MIN READ
Tax tip - keep receipts

Over the last 40 years I reckon I’ve interviewed every Tax Commissioner at some stage. I’ve asked every single one of them what they think is the biggest mistake taxpayers make when it comes to challenging an ATO decision.

The answer has always been the same: bad record keeping.

The ATO doesn’t usually even have to argue their position because the records of taxpayers are so bad they don’t have the proper evidence to back up their point.

A recent study by accounting software group Intuit QuickBooks found that while 93 per cent of Aussies still collect physical receipts to claim back at tax time, lost or damaged receipts are causing us to miss out on a potential $7 billion in unclaimed deductions across the nation.

Widespread ‘receipt regret’

The majority of Australians (59 per cent) admit to having lost receipts, while 47 per cent had promised themselves they would store receipts better this year but haven’t done so. These findings suggest the experience of ‘receipt regret’ is widespread among Aussies at tax time.

The struggle to sort through a pile of receipts and (quite literally) piece together your year in a last-minute scramble has become a dreaded chore for many ahead of tax time. Despite their intentions, over a third (42 per cent) of survey respondents sometimes or always forget where they’ve stored their receipts, with 15 per cent spending up to a whopping five hours sorting through them in the lead up to tax time.

I can certainly relate to that.

The survey revealed that many receipts have met a watery end, with 22 per cent of Aussies reporting to have lost a receipt to the washing machine. Other receipts have met a smelly fate with 13 per cent admitting to having fished them out of the bin. Almost half of survey respondents (46 per cent) have had to deal with faded, torn or illegible receipts, and more than half (59 per cent) have lost receipts completely.

Aussies looking forward to tax time

In a cost-of-living crisis where every dollar counts, it’s no surprise that almost a quarter of Aussies are looking forward to doing their tax return this end-of-financial year in the hope of getting money back. Nearly 1 in 5 admit that the main motivation to submit their taxes is to ‘see if I can get a tax rebate’.

Aussies can make tax time less stressful by using tech to their advantage to make a digital copy of receipts as soon as they are received. The trick is to strike while the admin is hot and you’ll save yourself from receipt regret at tax time.

The ATO has a great feature on its app where you can capture receipts throughout the year, and this uploads directly to your tax return.

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