Can I Claim Tax Deductions Without a Receipt?

Stack of receipts.

Tax deductions are a way to help even out your tax situation. If you are spending your own money on things, you just have to do your job. You deserve to recoup what you paid.

The Australian Tax Office (ATO) typically prefers citizens to have receipts to prove expenditures when lodging income tax returns. This raises the question of what happens if you have legitimate deductions and no receipts?

Fortunately, all is not lost if you cannot locate your receipts. A skilled tax expert can help you learn what documents the ATO will accept instead of a receipt.

Can I Claim Anything if I Do Not Have a Receipt?

There are some deductions the ATO might approve without a receipt. First, answer the three critical questions regarding tax deductions to determine if you could recoup your money.

  1. Is it essential for your occupation? A landscaper must have a lawn mower that is in good working order. However, a state-of-the-art sound system may not be crucial for the landscaping business.
  2. Did you pay for the item yourself? If you used some expense money that your employer gave you, it does not count, and you cannot deduct it with or without a receipt.
  3. Were you reimbursed for the purchase? If you bought supplies that you need for your job with your own money but then received some form of reimbursement from your employer, it is not deductible.

If you are sure you paid for the item in question, did not use company money, and were not imbursed, the ATO may allow you to make deductions with credit card receipts.

Are There Any Deductions the ATO Will Approve Without a Receipt?

There are some situations and purchases that you can deduct. Here is a list of items you might consider,

  • Computer-Related Items – If you bought a new laptop for your home office and have the credit card statement as proof, it could be enough to satisfy the ATO.
  • Stationary – A credit card statement should serve as proof that you bought the items for work purposes.
  • Union and Membership Fees – These are likely itemised on the PAYG summary or your Income Statement. If you have either, you can be reasonably sure the ATO will accept them as documentation.
  • Fuel or Petrol – Keeping an accurate driving log for at least 12 consecutive weeks, along with the average cost of petrol and the size of your car, should enable you to deduct petrol on your tax return.
  • Fuel or Petrol without a Log Book – If you can show the ATO how you calculate the number of kilometres you are claiming, you can claim a maximum of 5,000km at 72 cents each.

Getting receipt after payment.

Is There Any Amount I Can Claim with No Receipt?

The ATO usually permits a deduction of $300 for work-related purchases without receipts. Although you may have spent a great deal more, the $300 can help with taxes. Remember, even if you are below the $300 limit, plan on being able to explain what you bought and how it relates to your job.

What Will the ATO Reject Without a Receipt?

The ATO limits what is acceptable as a deduction when you have no receipts. For example:

  • I Paid Cash – Trying to tell the ATO that you have no receipt for purchases you plan on deducting because it was a cash sale would not work. Perhaps you paid in cash, but generally, a receipt is available upon request.
  • Here is a Price Tag – Showing the ATO a picture of an item you use for your job that has a price sticker will not convince them to approve your deduction. The ATO has seen everything, including people who snap images of items with price tags in hopes of gaining a deduction.
  • It is Here in the Catalogue – No matter how many advertisements for an item you show to the ATO, the agency wants proof that you purchased the item.

The ATO has fairly clear expectations regarding proving your tax deductions. You can save yourself time, expense, and frustration by keeping all of your receipts. Something as simple as a large envelope with the tax year written on it can be enough to help you stay organised. Another tax tip, if you do not know if you should keep a receipt or toss it, err on the side of caution and hang on to it.

If your tax returns are causing you distress, you are not alone. Millions of Australians admit to wrestling with their taxes. You do not need to struggle on your own. Reach out to Tax Return.com. Skilled professional tax experts can sort out your taxes and help you make the most of available deductions, even if a receipt is missing. You can find assistance for numerous financial situations by speaking with one of our tax experts.