If you didn’t already know it, the arrival of your official ‘group certificate’ is a good reminder that the new financial year has begun and that means one thing…tax time. Before you hide under your desk in complete fear and procrastination, here are some things you may not know which might result in paying less tax or, what we’d all prefer, a bigger tax return. We spoke to chartered tax accountant Ben Collins from Accountly, to answer some common questions and clarify a few tax myths.
You say Satchel, I say Chanel – Can you claim your handbag?
The short answer is no, a tax claim is for a legitimate laptop carry case, satchel or briefcase to carry a work laptop or iPad. That also includes your iPad screen cover if the iPad is used for work. There are limits to this – usually $300 – and you would need to prove that the bag is regularly used as a way of carrying these items, so if you’re not sure if your bag is a briefcase, just ask your accountant.
Driving up costs – what are the limits to claiming on car transport?
The costs of driving to and from work are not claimable but if you are using your car for work purposes throughout the day e.g. if you’re a tradesman going from job to job or a real estate agent hosting inspections, you can claim the associated costs. You’ll need to maintain a log book of trips and other costs including tolls and petrol, otherwise, your limits to claim would be a set amount of cents per kilometre up to 5,000kms.
One exception to claiming on work transport is any profession where tools/equipment is stored in a vehicle because of a lack of work-supplied storage. In this scenario you might be able to claim on the costs associated with trips to and from work.
Hosiery for free – what work gear is claimable?
If your profession requires you to wear a uniform or something work specific like nurse’s stockings or chef’s whites, you can claim on these costs. Safety clothes like steel capped boots are also included in this list as well as sunglasses and sunscreen if you work outdoors.
But don’t get too excited, if you work in a retail store and your work “uniform” is the retailers’ clothes, that doesn’t count – you’ll just have to be content with the perk of clothing discounts.
Other things you can claim
- If you’re using a tax agent, you can claim their fee as part of your overall tax return.
- If you work from home or do extra hours of work at home, you might be able to claim 45c of each hour worked towards your energy bills – you’ll just need to keep a diary of time worked.
- Don’t forget to include any laptops/iPads tech equipment you use for work plus telephone / internet usage but, again, you would need a record of this.