The 3 simple things that are likely to get you 'red-flagged' by the ATO.

Tax time can be extremely stressful for a lot of Australians, and as we all know it is when we are at our most stressed that we overlook minor details, but apparently, it is these simple things that may end up having you red-flagged by the Australian Tax Office.

According to a senior tax agent at, Liz Russell, there are three things you can do that will have you red flagged by the Australian Tax Office.

In an interview with, Russell said that failure to list your spouse, claiming the maximum “receipt-less” deductions and forgetting to update personal details are likely to have your tax refunds delayed, which may have you facing extra penalties or charges.

Russell says that it’s often those who are impatient about their tax return that end up in trouble.

“The early lodgers tend to be a little more caught out than someone who’s prepared to wait a month,” Russell said.

“They want to get their tax return early, they’re hanging out for that refund and they don’t take time to go through their information. They get burned in six months time when they ATO does their checking and come across a missing PAYG certificate and they end up with a bill.”

She also noted that at the end of the financial year, people often forget to do the tax for their side-hustles, thinking they don’t have to do tax for jobs like being an Uber driver. However, it is this mentality that results in what the ATO calls the “income tax gap”, with dodgy claims allegedly costing the ATO $906 per person.


For those who don’t declare things deliberately, ATO deputy commissioner Alison Lendon said in a statement that they can “expect closer attention from us, especially this tax time.”

In addition to the three main things that come up as red flags for the tax office, is claiming substantially more than your peers, and forgetting to include bank interest with your tax.

While many forget to declare their side-hustles, others have decided to claim as much as humanly possible on tax.

According to a report by The Courier Mail, people are trying to claim some pretty, uh, interesting things this year.

So far, the Australian Tax Office has seen someone claim their pet Maltese Terrier is actually a “guard dog”, while another person tried to claim a weekend getaway, citing stress relief.

While you definitely have to admire their creativity, ATO assistant commissioner Kath Anderson told The Courier Mail there are repercussions for falsified claims.

“If a claim raises a red flag in the system, the ATO will investigate further and if the claim is incorrect, we will work with the taxpayer to correct it,” she told The Courier Mail.

“Depending on their behaviour, we may also impose a penalty.”


It’s probably safest to declare your spouse, all your side-hustles, and not your Maltese Terrier.