As the dust settles from the EOFY sales, most of us are left with some mixed emotions at the task that comes next, submitting our tax return. Whether you prepare your own statement, or employ someone else to, here are five commonly overlooked tax deductions that might apply to you.
Ever work from home?
A lot of workplaces are all about flexible working arrangements these days and as such more and more of us are working from home on a regular basis. Even if it’s only for a few hours a week this can lead to us incurring a number of ‘home office’ expenses that may be tax-deductible.
Costs such as heating, lighting, personal computer and internet expenses, home phone and mobile expenses are claimable as well as the cost of furniture and equipment if used for work purposes. The portion of expenses claimed must be directly related to your work as an employee, and not cover the portion used for private use. There are examples of how to calculate these costs on the ATO website and if in doubt, ask your tax adviser.
Do you have work specific clothing and/or gear?
Now this one can get a little convoluted, and unfortunately you can’t go out and buy a whole new wardrobe and claim it was ‘for work’, but if your job requires occupation-specific clothing, protective clothing or work uniforms (clothing designed and made only for that employer) then you may be able to claim the money spent on purchasing, as well as the cost of cleaning these clothes (that includes your laundry costs at home). This also goes for sun protection, if your job requires you to work outside for sustained periods in the sun, then you may be able to claim any sunscreen, hats or sunglasses you have bought as a result.
If you like to go the extra mile and upskill by enrolling in eligible education courses or seminars that will help you enhance your professional or technical skillset then you may be able to claim these expenses as a deduction. You may also be able to claim for items like union or professional association fees, and professional journal and magazine subscriptions.
Did you donate to charity?
Did you have an onslaught of friends hitting you up for their charity marathon sponsorship this year? Well the good news is that in addition to being a lovely charitable human your donation may be tax deductible. Check if the organisations that you donated to are registered as a ‘deductible gift recipient’ on the ATO website. The gift or donation must be given voluntarily without receiving material benefit or advantage (so no meat tray raffle tickets, or fundraising dinners) and any amount donated above $2 can be claimed back.
Do you have any investments?
If you have investments such as property or stocks that you have received income from (e.g. dividends from your shares, rental payments from an investment property) then you may be able to claim for costs relating to producing these incomes. Some of the possible deductions here may be; account keeping fees, interest charged on money borrowed to buy stocks and rental properties, advertising for tenants, council rates, building and contents insurance, body corporate fees, travel to advisers, subscriptions to investment journals, telephone, postage, internet, and professional advice expenses.
For all these deductions it’s important to make sure that you meet all the conditions applied to each category and most of all that you can prove it with receipts, logbooks and more receipts. For more information the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) provides detailed categories of expenses you can claim on its website or get advice from a qualified Tax Adviser.