finance

Everything you need to know before you lodge your tax return this year.

These days lodging a tax return is so effortless, you don’t even need to leave your house.

What most people get confused about is where they can claim deductions to maximise potential return. Fear not! I’ve listed a few considerations below.

Remember it is important to be able to validate the costs (in case of an audit) so keeping your receipts and records for seven years is essential. However there are some exceptions. The ATO will even bring through interest earned on your bank accounts and any listed investments into the online system.

Working more than 9 to 5?

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When working overtime, provided you have been paid an allowance by your employer, you can claim for your meals without having to keep any receipts, provided you can show how you have calculated the amount you spent.

The cost of parking, tolls, taxis and public transport if you are required to travel to attend seminars, meetings and training courses can be claimed. If you need to stay away overnight you can claim for the of all meals and your accommodation.

Are you required to wear a uniform?

The cost of buying compulsory uniforms, including shirts, pants, skirts, jackets, jumpers – your uniform should have the business’s logo on it to ensure it is tax deductible and the bonus is you can claim the cost of laundry or dry cleaning of your uniforms.

There are definitely some taxes we wish we didn't have to pay. Watch Russell Howard's insightful and hilarious monologue about cutting tax credits and the ridiculous tampon tax: 

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Are you studying?

The cost of work-related short training courses, for example first aid, OH&S, bookkeeping, customer service, g, computer skills or management, which are not run by a University or TAFE can be claimed.

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You can also claim for the cost of travelling to and from the course and any accommodation and meal expenses if you are required to stay away overnight.

And here's the big bonus - the cost of any materials or supplies that you buy for use at work, for example a work bag or briefcase can be claimed.

Do you have the need to read?

The cost of annual association membership fees and work-related magazines or journals can be claimed.

Also claimable is the cost of work-related internet connection fees. You can only claim the proportion of your monthly fees that relate to work use, which could include emailing and conducting research relating to your job.

The other claims to consider:

• The amount of any donations to registered charities, as long as you haven’t received anything in return for your donation, such as raffle tickets or novelty items.
• The cost of bank fees charged on any investment accounts.
• The cost of income protection or sickness and accident insurance premiums. This type of insurance covers you if you become injured or ill, including when you are not at work, or become sick and you are unable to work.
• Your tax agent fees.
• The cost of travelling to see your tax agent and financial adviser. If you choose to do it online then you’re out of luck with this one. You can claim the cost of travelling to see your accountant to have your tax return prepared. You should keep a record of the number of kilometres you travel and any other incidental costs such as parking, meals, accommodation etc.)

It is important to note that if in doubt seek advice by a professional tax agent.  Your role and profession may offer further opportunities to make allowable deductions.

Lisa Barber is a Private Wealth Advisor, Author & Speaker. You can visit her website here. Lisa's new book, 'A Woman’s Guide to Wealth: What my Mother Needed To Know' is available online.