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Money habits

Expenses you probably didn’t know you could claim at tax time

1 August 2019

The following information is general in nature and has not considered your individual circumstances. Consult the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) or your registered tax advisor to understand if these tips are applicable to you.

For some, tax return time is their favourite part of the year. For others, it’s a nightmare of receipts and numbers. Unless you’re well versed in everything tax, there are things you might be forgetting to claim. So, we’ve compiled a list of the ten things you may not have known you could claim in your tax return.

Happy claiming!

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Sun protection

Sunscreen, sunglasses and SPF makeup could be tax deductible if your job requires you to work outdoors.

Dogs

If you use dogs for farming or security purposes, their purchase cost, maintenance, vet bills, and food costs are tax deductible. Unfortunately, this doesn’t include your pet Shih Tzu, unless you can prove Fluffy is the protector of your business’s premises 

Clothes

If you have a work uniform or occupation-specific clothes, they may be claimable. This doesn’t include regular clothes you might purchase on your own accord and wear to work. Your laundry and dry-cleaning costs are also deductible for these items You can claim 50c per load of mixed work and non-work clothes, or $1 per load of work clothes alone. However, you’ll need evidence such as diary entries and receipts for any claims over $150. 

Gifts and donations

You can claim a deduction for gifts or donations that that are made to organisations which have a ‘deductible gift recipient’ status, e.g  your favorite registered charity. Any amounts over $2 can be claimed. But you can’t claim any amounts for gifts or donations that provide you with a personal benefit, such as raffle tickets or fundraising dinners. 

Home office use

Things like electricity and internet, if used in your home office, are tax deductible. The deduction needs to be proportional to your business and personal use, and there are different rules depending on whether you do or don’t have a separate space for work. According to the ATO, you can claim a fixed rate of 52 cents per hour of running costs. That includes heating, cooling, cleaning, and the deterioration of furniture. 

Tax fees

Some of you might be excited by the surprising things you can claim but for some it’s just an additional headache and more numbers to calculate. If you fall into the latter category, there’s a good chance you’ll call upon an accountant or tax advisor to look after your tax return for you. Luckily, fees for a registered tax agent, barrister, or solicitor are also tax deductible! And don’t worry, they’ll work out that part for you too. 

Television subscriptions, magazines, journals

Oh good, you can sit back for a night of streaming your favourite show and know the Government is picking up the bill? Not quite, sadly. If you work in the media or another relevant industry, things like paid TV subscriptions, magazines, and journals – if you need them to stay abreast of your field – may be claimable. 

Mobile phones

If you use a personal phone for work purposes, you can claim your work-related usage. Unfortunately, two-hour long calls to your cousin overseas don’t count.

Insurance 

There’s a few insurance costs you can claim, depending on your circumstances. 

  • If you operate your business out of your home, you can claim a proportion of home insurance.
  • You can claim insurance costs for your rental property for the period it was rented or available for rent. 
  • Car insurance can be tax deductible if you use your own car for work, business or ride-sharing services (where it relates to earning an income). If your car is used for both work and business purposes, you’ll need to make a proportional claim for usage. If you use the log-book method, you can claim the work-related percentage of your car insurance as a deduction. The cents per kilometre method incorporates all costs, so there is no separate deduction for car insurance if you use this method. 

Salary sacrifice contributions

Personal contributions to your superannuation from your after-tax income are tax deductible for most people under 75. The ATO has the forms and nitty-gritty details. You must complete an s290-170 form before you lodge your tax return if you intend to claim for personal deductible contributions. And you will need acknowledgement from the trustee of the fund to claim the deduction.

Education

Self-education that is directly related to your income may betax deductible, depending on when the cost was incurred and paid. That could include things like seminars, conferences or courses. 

Other tips

  • The ATO says claims must be directly related to earning your income (different rules apply if you work solely from home and depending on whether or not you have a dedicated office space). You must also have spent the money and not been reimbursed, and if your total deductions are over $300, you must have written evidence for it. 
  • So what sort of records will you need to supply? Receipts and invoices for equipment or asset purchases and sales and expense claims and repairs; payment summaries; sufficiently detailed bank statements; contracts; and tenant rental records are examples of records used to prove tax deduction claims. 
  • There are heaps of apps available to help you keep on top of receipts and other records to make things simpler at tax time.
  • Remember, you only claim for a part of the item or thing that you use for work. For example, if you are claiming for internet, but use your internet for both work and personal purposes, you’ll need to calculate what part you can claim for work purposes.
  • It’s best to lodge your tax return by the due date, October 31, unless you’re using a registered tax agent. Otherwise you could incur interest and penalties if you owe the Australian Tax Office money.
  • If you wait until August or September to lodge your claim, some information will be pre-filled on your tax return form, saving you time and lowering the chance of any mistakes being made!

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Check out the ATO website for full details around tax returns and what deductions you can claim. 

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This information is general in nature and has not considered your individual circumstances. Consult the ATO or your registered tax advisor to understand if these tips are applicable to you or how they apply to your personal circumstances. Banking products are issued by Suncorp-Metway Ltd ABN 66 010 831 722 (“Suncorp Bank”). Eligibility criteria, conditions and fees apply and are available on request. Please read the relevant Product Information Document before making any decision about this product. Suncorp Car, Home, and Contents Insurance issued by AAI Limited ABN 48 005 297 807 trading as Suncorp Insurance. Read the Product Disclosure Statement before buying this insurance.

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