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Tribunal: Senior Member R Hamilton SC

The AAT remitted a decision of the Commissioner of Taxation (the Commissioner) for recalculation, after allowing part of the applicant taxpayer’s claim relating to home office expenses.

The applicant claimed several deductions related to working from home, which were partly rejected by the Commissioner following an audit. The taxpayer lodged an objection, which was disallowed, before applying to the AAT for a review.

The applicant worked at a bank and, for one week out of every four, was rostered to work on-call 24 hours a day. The roster was put in place for several reasons, including to meet business demand and fulfil the employer’s disaster plan if the bank’s computer system failed.

The applicant was supplied with computers and other equipment by his employer. He also kept several other computers throughout his four-level home, which were networked so he could use them for work.

After learning he was being audited, he sought advice from an officer of the Commissioner on deducting occupancy expenses for mortgage interest and council rates related to working from home. The applicant relied on this advice as an oral ruling. He also claimed, in the alternative, he was entitled to the deductions as an employee of a company, of which he was the sole director and shareholder.

The AAT did not accept the advice given during a live chat was an oral ruling and defined it as a general enquiry. During the chat, the applicant did not give details of his home office, his employment conditions, his job or the amount of expenses. Similarly, the AAT rejected the applicant’s argument he was an employee of his own company as it was not supported by evidence.

However, the AAT found it did suit the employer for the applicant to work from home when rostered on after-hours, in accordance with his working conditions. The employer had provided equipment for use at home and the employee had kept records of his time working from home. This entitled him to a deduction of part of the occupancy expenses relating to his study, which was dedicated exclusively to his work.

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