finance

Everything you can claim at tax time, according to your job.

The end of the financial year is approaching and that can only mean one thing; it’s nearly time to lodge your tax return – and (hopefully) receive some cash back.

Now is a great time to take stock of all the money you’ve spent on work-related items during the course of the year. The question is, are you claiming everything you’re entitled to?

The general rule is that if you incur an expense as part of your job and aren’t reimbursed by your employer, you can make a claim. Depending on what you do for a living, that can give rise to some unexpected deductions.

Here are some of the things you may not know you can claim (plus a few things you can’t claim) for five of the most popular professions.

Teachers and other educators

  • Annual teacher registration fees are deductible
  • Claim the costs of references books or a professional library for the subject you teach
  • Prizes that you purchase to reward the achievements of your students and encourage future performance are claimable
  • Stationary, art materials, stopwatches and computer consumables including pens and toner cartridges are all deductible
  • Depreciation on technology costing more than $300, like computers, laptops, tablets, mobile phones and printers (items less than $300 may be written off immediately)
  • Teacher aids
  • Conferences and courses linked to your teaching can be claimed, including associated costs such as travel and textbooks
  • If you mark homework or prepare lessons whilst at home, you can claim home office expenses such as a proportion of internet costs and the associated costs of any technology you use such as computers and printers as well as a portion of utility bills.
  • If you pay for school excursions, such as sporting or camping trips, out of your own pocket and aren’t reimbursed, the costs are claimable. This can include meals, transport and accommodation costs.

Speaking of tax, why is it we pay GST on tampons and pads, again? Post continues.

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Healthcare workers

  • If you’re required to wear a uniform as part of your role, the cost is deductible.
  • You can also claim a deduction for the cost of clothing that you use at work to protect your ordinary clothes from soiling or damage, for example, laboratory coats and aprons.
  • If you need protective clothing, such as non-slip shoes, they are deductible.
  • Claim for conference expenses. As well as the cost of the conference itself, that can also include travel, meals and accommodation costs – even where the conference is overseas, though you might need to apportion the costs (and disallow the private bit) if you spent some downtime on the beach afterwards!
  • Claim for professional subscriptions, whether to a professional body like the AMA or to a trade union.
  • If you’re required to work overtime, you can claim for the cost of buying meals provided you have been paid an allowance by your employer.
  • Agency costs: if you get your work through an agency, the cost is claimable.
  • Many health care workers will need to use their own car as part of their job. That can include transporting patients, travelling between patient’s homes or travel from one medical facility to another; all such journeys are potentially claimable.

Businesswomen and corporate ladies

  • The cost of a handbag or briefcase is claimable if you need it for work purposes, such as carrying paperwork or a laptop. Be careful though; the ATO may query whether a Gucci handbag is really required as part of your job.
  • You can’t claim the cost of “conventional” clothing worn at work. That rules out suits and other business wear, unfortunately.
  • If you work from home (at weekends or in the evenings for instance) you can claim a deduction for home office expenses. Either claim 45 cents per hour or claim a proportion of your actual costs, based on a diary of work use.
  • If you travel as part of your work, you can claim the costs of your work-related journeys such as the cost of visiting clients or suppliers. If you use your own car, either claim 66 cents per kilometre up to a maximum 5,000 kms or keep a logbook and claim your actual expenses. You can also claim for parking, tolls and public transport if you don’t use your car. Sadly, the cost of entertaining clients isn’t tax deductible.

Lady startups and small business owners

  • Cost of equipment: If you run your own business, you can use the instant asset write-off scheme to immediately deduct the cost of capital items for use in your business costing up to $20,000 per item.
    Depending on what your business does, that include items as diverse as:
    – Plant and equipment for use in your business
    – TV sets and other equipment to build the “ambience” in public facing areas of your business
    – Furniture for break-out, rest areas or reception spaces
    – Office equipment, like desks, chairs and cabinets
    – Technology such as laptops, desktop computers, phones and tablets
    – Motor vehicles
    – Security equipment, such as CCTV or alarm systems
  • The costs of marketing your business are all claimable. That covers everything from radio, TV, press, billboard and social media campaigns through to local community engagement events, like sausage sizzles, fetes and open days.
  • Workers compensation insurance premiums are deductible, as are insurance costs for fire, business-use cars, public liability, theft and loss of profits.
  • Staff training. If you incur costs on providing training for your staff, those costs are claimable.

The last super guarantee payment of the current financial year is due to be paid to the ATO just after the end of the financial year. If you pay it early – before June 30th – you can claim the tax deduction this financial year.

Lawyers and legal ladies

  • Don’t forget to claim the cost of your annual practicing certificate
  • Whilst normal business attire isn’t claimable, clothing specific to the legal profession, such as the robes and wigs worn in court by barristers, are deductible
  • Sadly, you can’t claim the cost of club fees (such as the local golf or tennis club) even if you use your membership as a means of networking and meeting clients
  • Your professional indemnity insurance costs are claimable
  • You can claim the cost of Supreme Court library fees

And finally…

Keep records! It doesn’t matter what you’ve spent; if you can’t prove that you spent it, you can’t claim it. So, gather together all those receipts and invoices. If you’ve lost a receipt, try to get a copy from the retailer. If that fails, a bank or credit card statement might do if you can clearly identify the item. Don’t try to claim if you don’t have the paperwork; you’re leaving yourself open to an ATO audit.

Mark Chapman is the Director of Tax Communications at H&R Block.

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