Things you never knew you could claim tax deductions for
Tax time might not be everyone's favourite time of the year, but it can turn into a financial blessing if you know exactly what and how much you are aiming for.
Research from Officeworks shows Australians miss out on $426 of unclaimed tax each year - that's a staggering $1.65 billion nationwide - with many remaining in the dark about what they can claim.
The research shows that 40 per cent of people had no idea they could claim a tax deduction on petrol, while around one third didn’t realise home office expenses could reduce their tax bill.
Finance expert Justine Davis
Finance writer Justine Davis says while the exact nature of how much you can claim will depend on whether you run a home-based business or have a home-based work area for after-hours or the occasional day of work, there's money to be made in certain areas.
The ATO states that to claim a tax deduction a purchase must have been made in the last financial year and must be work related. The claim must be something that you won’t be reimbursed for, and you may need a receipt as evidence.
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Below is a breakdown of what can be claimed across different work environments.
Office and work from home employees:
• Part of the cost of using a room's utilities, such as gas and electricity. Generally this can be claimed as either a proportion of the actual cost, based on your hours of work, or via a deduction calculated at a set rate of cents per hour of work.
• The cost of a printer, scanner, computer, shredder – even a desk lamp! Note that depending on the purchase price, some of these items may need to be depreciated over time.
You can claim the cost of a printer, scanner or even a desk lamp!
• Work-related phone expenses. Under some circumstances (for example, if you are ‘on call’) you may be able to claim
a portion of the telephone rental cost. Additionally, you can claim any specific work-related costs, generally by highlighting these costs from your itemised telephone account (so tip: keep your telephone account statements handy).
• Other office furniture, such as a desk, chair, footrest, fan or heater or light fitting. Again, these items may need to be depreciated over time depending on the cost.
Expenses on office furniture can be claimed too.
• Repairs to office furniture or equipment.
• Leasing costs of any work-related items (for example, a computer).
• Speaking of computers, computer software purchased for work purposes may also be a tax deduction.
Journalists can claim sunglasses if their work requires them to be outside, while lawyers can claim the cost of wigs worn for appearances in court.
Performance artists can claim work-related costumes as well as accessories such as the cost of tinted contact lenses.
Professional sportsmen and athletes can claim anything they use during training and performance, including sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses.
All on-field fines and penalties are tax deductible as is the fee to negotiate new contracts and travel expenses.
Deduction can be claimed for the cost of buying, hiring, replacing or maintaining protective clothing worn at work. For firemen and miners, this can include fire resistant clothing, steel-capped boots, safety coloured vests or sun protection clothing.
Similarly builders can claim ear muffs, while policemen can claim bulletproof vests. Flight attendants can claim moisturiser while gym instructors and fitness trainers can claim the cost of aerobics DVDs.
Interest, dividend and other investment income deductions
You can claim a deduction if you are able to show that you incurred expenses earning interest, dividend or other investment income.
You may be able to claim a deduction for self-education expenses if your study is work-related or if you receive a taxable bonded scholarship. In some circumstances, you have to reduce the amount of your claim by $250.
Your personal eligibility for particular tax deductions will depend on your personal situation. Find out more at www.ato.gov.au .