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Nice try, but you definitely can't claim these 11 things on your tax return.

It’s almost tax time and if you’re anything like us, you’re already daydreaming about what you’re going to spend your refund on.

But while it may be tempting to claim everything you possibly can to increase that refund, it pays to not be cavalier with your tax records.

The Australian Taxation Office has released a list targeting the common misconceptions around what you can and can’t claim.

“Many taxpayers don’t have a good understanding of what deductions they can claim, and believe they can claim for items which they, in fact, can’t,” says assistant commissioner Kath Anderson.

Listen: Financial planner Canna Campbell shares how you can save on your weekly grocery bill.

A common mistake? Writing off expenses you didn’t actually purchase.

“Some taxpayers even think that you can make a standard claim of $300 without having spent the money,” Anderson explains.

“You don’t need receipts for claims up to $300 but you must have actually spent the money, and be able to show us how you worked out your deduction if asked.”

Here are 11 things the ATO says you “probably can’t claim” on your tax return:

1. Trips between home and work.

Whether it be by bus, train, car or ferry, you can’t claim the cost of getting to work – it’s considered private travel.

2. Car expenses that have been salary sacrificed.

Salary sacrificed expenses are already tax-free, so ensure you don’t double up.

Don't get too audacious. (Image via iStock.)
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3. Meal expenses for travel.

However, if you're required to work away from home overnight, it's a different story.

4. Private travel.

If you tack on some sightseeing to your work trip, make sure you're only claiming the work-related portion.

5. Everyday clothes you bought to wear to work (eg, a suit or black pants), even if your employer requires you to wear them.

If it's not an official uniform - like a McDonald's shirt - it doesn't count.

6. A flat rate for cleaning eligible work clothes without being able to show how you calculated the cost.

So scrutinise your water bill, figure out your laundry powder consumption or add up your dry cleaning or laundromat bills.

Best to do the maths rather than make it up.(Image via iStock.)

7. Higher education contributions charged through the HELP scheme.

Paying back your university loans in not a tax deduction.

8. Self-education expenses when the study doesn’t have a direct connection to your current employment.

The ATO warns that training for your dream job - like a creative writing or Spanish language course - doesn't count.

9. Private use of phone or internet expenses – only the work-related portion counts.

Your accountant will help you figure out how much of your phone was work use and how much was personal.

10. Up-front deductions for tools and equipment that cost more than $300.

Unfortunately, you can't write off your $1200 work laptop in one year. However, you can spread your deduction claim over a number of years - which is called depreciation.

11. Car expenses for transporting bulky tools or equipment.

Unless you need to use your bulky tools to do your job, your employer requires you to transport this equipment
there is no secure area to store the equipment at work. (Which, frankly is the only reasons we can't think of for doing this anyway.)

The good news is that there are 10 things you may not have known you can claim:

  • Sunscreen (if you work outdoors)
  • Make-up (if your makeup has sun protection and you’re required to work outdoors)
  • Handbags (if you use it for work purposes – e.g. To carry iPads, phones, calculators, stationary or anything else you need for work)
  • Art (using the $20,000 instant asset write-off, you could get a deduction with an art purchase for your office)
  • Performance utensils (e.g. Actors, musicians, dancers, magicians, circus performers, who need classes, instruments, etc.)
  • Sex toys (adult industry workers)
  • Donations (to charity)
  • Mobile phones (for work-related expenses)
  • Laundry (to wash your work uniform)
  • Car expenses (when used for work)

What on these lists surprised you?

Tags: facebook-rogue , tax
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