finance

10 things you didn't know you can claim at tax time.

If there’s one thing I really, really love, it’s free money. 

Every year at tax time, I find myself overwhelmed at the prospect of getting money I’m already owed. It’s so… exciting. But unfortunately, I’m not very good at it. When it comes to claiming costs related to my work, I’m a) lazy and b) clueless.

That’s where I need help.

Director of Tax Communications at H&R Block, Mark Chapman says you can claim dozens of costs you may not have ever considered.

For example, did you know you can claim part of your electricity bill if you work from home? Or subscriptions if you work in the media? I’m subscribed to Kim Kardashian’s website, but I would argue the embarrassment that would come with writing that down on a tax form far outweighs the money I could be reimbursed.

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Moving on.

Here are ten unexpected things you can claim at tax time:

  • 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)

Chapman also explains a few areas people may have questions about, when it comes to tax time.

Fitness classes: Definitely not something that most people can claim but if your job requires a level of physical fitness well above normal, you may be able to make a claim. Examples would be some sportspeople and professional dancers, some members of the armed forces (such as members of the Special Air Services regiment) and some police officers (such as police academy physical training instructors). 

Food and drink: You can’t claim the weekly grocery bill or a Saturday night out at a restaurant but if you travel away from home as part of your work – on an interstate trip for instance – you can claim the costs of food, drink and other incidentals incurred whilst you are away. 

Haircuts: This is an area that many taxpayers would like to claim and many have tried (including policemen and army personnel) but few have succeeded. Aside from a few people in the performing arts, a haircut is regarded as private expenditure and not tax deductible.

Life insurance premiums: If you pay premiums through your super fund, they are tax deductible. Payments outside your super fund aren’t tax deductible; having said that, if your policy pays out and you haven’t been able to claim for the premiums, then the payout isn’t taxable income either.

Overseas travel: Forget claiming for the family holiday but if you take work-related trips overseas, you can claim for costs which you incur, including flights, accommodation and meals. Obviously, if all your costs are paid for by your employer, you can’t make a claim but if you pay for the trip yourself, you can claim deductions.

I’m definitely going to do a lot more research this year about what I can claim. And hopefully I’ll end up with even MORE free money.

With special thanks for H&R Block Accountants. 

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