It's tax time.
Over the coming weeks and months, millions of Australians will lodge their tax return; and many of them will reap the rewards. Thanks to COVID-19 and working from home, there's a lot you can claim for the 2020-21 financial year.
Plus, there's a pretty decent government handout on offer.
Watch: Four money hacks that don't cut out your daily cup of coffee! Post continues after video.
We asked Mark Chapman, Director of Tax Communications at H&R Block, the most pressing questions about tax returns this year. Here's what he shared.
What working from home expenses can we claim?
Anyone who worked from home during the 2020-21 tax year, can claim those hours on their tax return. As Mark explained, there are three ways you can go about this.
"The ATO has introduced a temporary 'shortcut method' of calculating additional running expenses allowing those working from home to claim a rate of 80 cents per work hour during the coronavirus crisis," Mark told Mamamia. "This applies for the whole of the 2020/21 tax year."
"You will need to keep a record of the number of hours you have worked from home as a result of COVID-19, such as a diary or timesheet. If you use the 80 cents per hour method, you can make no other claims in relation to working from home. So, items like mobile phone and internet usage are included in the 80 cent rate."
"Another option (which generally produces a bigger deduction) is to use the 52 cents per hour fixed rate," Mark said.
"Like the 80 cents fixed rate, you need to keep a record of the number of hours worked from home but, unlike the 80 cent rate, you can claim mobile phone usage, home internet and depreciation of computer equipment separately (which is why the total deduction is often bigger)."
Mark shared one more option.
"You can claim the work-related portion of your actual working from home expenses," he said.
Amongst the items you can claim are:
- Heating, cooling and lighting bills.
- Costs of cleaning your home working area (including cleaning products or payment for a cleaner if required).
- Depreciation of home office furniture and fittings.
- Depreciation of office equipment and computers.
- Costs of repairing home office equipment, furniture and furnishings.
- Small capital items, such as furniture and computer equipment costing less than $300 can be written off in full.
- Computer consumables (like printer ink) and stationery.
- Phone (mobile and/or landline) and internet expenses.
What surprising things can we claim, besides working from home expenses?
Because of the wild year we've had, there are some new things you can claim in your tax return that you might not know about (we didn't). Mark shared eight of them.