Queensland Chef Convicted
A 27-year-old Crestmead chef was convicted of three criminal offences for fraudulently claiming travel and clothing expenses as work-related deductions in addition to claiming fraudulent charity donations in her 2016 to 2018 financial year income tax returns.
Helen Feulufai was convicted on June 21 in the Brisbane Magistrates Court for making false statements in her Income Tax Returns, when she claimed refunds over three years amounting to more than $45,000 from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). Feulufai was ordered to repay the refunds, a $3000 fine and an additional $20,000 payment to the Taxation Commissioner and court costs.
Feulufai was employed a chef at a Queensland Chef Convicted Hospital where she was supplied with a full work uniform, including personal protective equipment and tools by her employer. In her capacity as a chef, Feulufai was not required to travel or use her own motor vehicle in the course of her employment.
Feulufai also attempted to claim charitable donations to an organisation not registered as a deductible gift recipient, to obtain refunds to which she was not entitled.
Feulufai had undergone two previous audits in 2012 and 2014, for attempting to claim similar deductions. On both occasions, she was sent an audit finalisation letter and provided education with regard to the valid deductible expenses for travel, vehicle and charitable donations.
Assistant Commissioner Peter Vujanic said the ATO takes strong action to protect honest taxpayers who are claiming the right amount – no more and no less.
“Taxpayers who can’t substantiate their claims should expect to have them refused, and may be penalised for failing to take reasonable care when submitting their tax return.
“Even if you lodge through a tax agent, your claims must be legitimate and you must be able to justify them,” Mr Vujanic said.
“If you intend to push the boundaries, or perhaps fudge some parts of your return the ATO has you in its sights.”
In 2018, over 3.6 million people made a work-related car expense claim totalling more than $7.2 billion. In addition, around six million people claimed work-related clothing and laundry expenses totalling nearly $1.5 billion.