Category: "Tax Deductions for Salary/Wage Earners"

Tax Deductions for Firefighters

February 1st, 2014

In to the fire, a Firefighter searches for possible survivors

 

Tax Deductions For Firefighters

This is my longest ever blog on Online Tax Solutions.  But let’s face it, our Australian fire fighters are true hero’s and definitely worthy of sharing my knowledge on tax deductions for firefighters.

VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTERS

When a volunteer firefighter donates their time to fighting fires and receives no monetary payment in return then they will not be entitled to any tax deductions. Tax deductions for firefighters must be related to the earning of assessable income.  Unfortunately because volunteer fire fighters do not earn any assessable income, they are therefore unable to claim any tax deductions.

ATO ID 2002/910 looks at a volunteer firefighter who wanted to claim the purchase of fire equipment as a tax deduction.  The answer from the ATO was no.  This is what they said:

The expenditure will not be incurred in the course of gaining or producing the taxpayer’s assessable income. Consequently, the taxpayer will not be entitled to a deduction under section 8-1 of the ITAA 1997 for the costs of firefighting equipment which they will use as a volunteer firefighter.

It is also important to note that the expenses a volunteer firefighter incurs in undertaking voluntary work does not meet the criterion of a donation of money or property.  Therefore they can’t be claimed as a tax deduction under donations.

Taxation Ruling TR 2005/13 deals with gifts and at paragraph 83 it states:

Services that are provided to a Deductible Gift Recipients by volunteers are not tax deductible as there is no transfer of property involved. Likewise any expenses that may be borne by the volunteer in the course of providing the services to the DGR are not deductible as gifts as there is no transfer of property to the DGR.

PAID FIRE FIGHTERS

Generally paid fire fighters can claim the following expenses as a tax deduction:

  • Protective Clothing and Uniform
  • Washing protective clothing and laundry
  • Sunscreen, hats and sunglasses
  • Fire equipment, torches and batteries
  • Mobile phone for being on call

Motor Vehicle Travel

For the paid fire fighter, motor vehicle travel is a grey area and a very misunderstood area of tax law.  Firstly, fire fighters are often contacted at home to come immediately into the fire station.  This has resulted in fire fighters believing they are entitled to motor vehicle travel from the minute they leave their house to travel to the station.  On top of that, they are often required to carry bags of fire equipment which can be wrongly interpreted for heavy and bulky equipment.

Let’s quickly look at a few common motor vehicle travel scenario’s encountered by fire fighters and how the Tax Office might view these circumstances in the case of an audit:

Travel between home and the fire station

Generally, expenditure in travelling between one’s private residence and place of work is of a private nature and is accordingly excluded as a deduction under section 8-1 of the ITAA 1997. Only in some special circumstances is such travel deductible. These exceptions are summarised in Taxation Ruling IT 2543 and include where the taxpayer’s employment can be construed as having commenced before or at the time of leaving home.

Taxation Ruling IT 112 states:

In the case of a taxpayer whose employment requires him to be on stand-by duty at home, the deductibility of expenditure in travelling from home to a place of work is a question of fact to be decided according to the circumstances of each case. The mere fact that a person is on stand-by duty at home is not enough. The fact that the person gets paid for the time taken to travel to work after receiving an afterhour’s call out, although relevant, is insufficient. More important is whether the person commences his or her actual duties from the time of the call.

In the case of a fire fighter, their duties do not normally commence from the time a call out is received at home.  When they arrive at the fire station is normally when their duties commence.   This type of travel is therefore commonly classed as home to work travel and generally no tax deduction will be allowed.

 Travel between home and the fire station carrying bulky equipment

A deduction may be allowable for the cost of travel between home and work for an employee who is required to transport bulky equipment.

Paragraphs 63 and 64 of Taxation Ruling TR 95/34 explain that a deduction may be allowed in these circumstances where:

  • The cost can be attributed to the transportation of bulky equipment rather than to private travel between home and work,
  • It is essential to transport the equipment to and from work and it is not done as a matter of convenience or personal choice,
  • There are no secure facilities available for storage of the equipment at the work place.

The question of what constitutes ‘bulky equipment’ must be considered according to the individual circumstances in each case.

In Crestani v. FC of T 98 ATC 2219; (1998) 40 ATR 1037 (Crestani’s Case), a toolbox which measured 57 cm x 28 cm x 25 cm and weighing 27kg was considered as ‘bulky’, in the sense of ‘cumbersome’, and the transport cost was ‘attributable’ to the transportation of such bulky equipment rather than private travel between home and work. The employer did not provide a secure storage area for the toolbox and the use of public transport was not a viable option.

Unfortunately Tax Agents and the Tax Office have little to work with when it comes to assessing if they think equipment may be heavy or bulky.  All we can really do is refer to case law such as Crestani’s case and make an assessment based on each firefighters individual circumstances.  Certainly if you’re a firefighter doing your own tax online through etax and wish to self-assess your eligibility for travel with bulky and heavy equipment, then comparing your situation to that of Crestani’s would be a good start.  Your equipment should at a minimum be over 20 kg and I would recommend closer to 27kg.  I also recommend that you submit a private binding ruling to the ATO so you can get a yes or no answer.  That way you won’t be stung should you be flagged for an audit.

Travel between fire station and emergency site(s)

Travel expenses you incur in travelling from the fire station to an emergency site may be a deductible expense.

WHAT IS NOT TAX DEDUCTIBLE?

GYM MEMBERSHIPS AND GYM EQUIPMENT

Taxation Rulings TR 95/13 and TR 95/17 deal with the deductibility of gymnasium membership fees for police officers and Australian Defence Force (ADF) members. Generally, such fees are considered to be private in nature and not deductible under section 8-1 of the ITAA 1997.

However, a deduction is allowable for these costs if the police officers or ADF members can demonstrate that strenuous physical activity is an essential and regular element of their specific occupation income earning activities as physical training instructors or members of special combat squads or of special emergency squads and they are required to maintain a level of fitness WELL ABOVE the average Defence Force member.

There is no doubt that firefighters require a certain level of fitness and strength.  However, generally the Tax Office does not consider this level of fitness comparable to that of a police force physical training instructor or a defence force member in the special combat squad.  Therefore, generally gym memberships will not be tax deductible.

SHAVERS & HAIRCUTS

Unfortunately the list of tax deductions for firefighters does not include shavers and haircuts.

The Commissioner has issued two occupational rulings providing his views on the deductibility of expenditure on hairdressing and personal grooming.

Taxation Ruling TR 95/13 deals with the Police Force and Taxation Ruling TR 95/17 deals with the Defence Force. Both rulings state that a deduction is not allowable as such expenditure is private in nature.

Regardless of the fact that you may be required to be clean shaven in order to wear your breathing equipment apparatus, you will generally not be allowed a tax deduction for razors.  Likewise, if you’re required to maintain your hair in a certain way, you will generally not be allowed a tax deduction for this either.

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Are shavers and haircuts tax deductible?

November 23rd, 2013

shavers and haircuts tax deductible 2Are shavers and haircuts tax deductible?

This is a common question asked by clients, and rightly so for those of you that don’t deal in tax law for a living.  For a normal person, the answer to this question appears obvious.  Your boss asks you to be clean shaven every day for work, you can’t wear your work respirator without it and it’s even in your work contract.  So it should be tax deductible, right?  Wrong!

No one has ever taken the Australian Tax Office to court over not being able to claim shavers as a tax deduction.  There have, however, been some cases on haircuts, which give us an indication of how the courts and the Tax Office view these types of expenses.

Perhaps the most popular is AAT Case U217 87 ATC 1216 where a police officer tried to claim a portion of his hair cut expenses because it was a condition of his employment that he keep his hair short.  Regardless of the fact that he only wanted to claim 50 percent against his work related income, the AAT found that the expense was private in nature and therefore not tax deductible.

In Case L61 79 ATC 488; 23 CTBR (NS) Case 73, an army officer tried to argue a similar case, claiming he was required to be well groomed for work, and therefore he should be entitled to claim a tax deduction for his haircuts.  The expense was found to be private in nature.

In Case 72/96 96 ATC 640, a television newsreader tried to claim a deduction for hairdressing, clothing and makeup purchased for use on camera.  Once again the claim was denied on the basis that these expenses were of a private nature.

At the end of the day, razors, shaving cream, haircuts and makeup are generally seen as private in nature and are not tax deductible expenses.  In limited circumstances, stage actors or performing artists can claim some of these expenses and you can read about that here.  If you’re considering making a claim for any of these items, then I suggest submitting a private binding ruling with the Australian Taxation Office.  See my article on Private Rulings.

 

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This information, facts, insights and ideas (“Content”) are for general informational purposes only and nothing contained in it is or is intended to be, construed as advice. It does not take into account your individual objectives, financial situation or needs. It should not be used, relied upon or treated as a substitute for specific or professional advice. You should, before you act or use any of this Content, consider the appropriateness of this information having regard to your own personal objectives, financial situation and needs. It should not be your only source of information but should be treated as a guide only. You should obtain your own independent professional advice before making any decision based on this information.

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Can you claim a tax deduction for Foxtel subscriptions?

November 18th, 2013

 

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Can you claim a tax deduction for Foxtel subscriptions?

Earlier this year I posted a blog article on what you CAN’T claim as a tax deduction.  In this article I mentioned Foxtel subscriptions.  I now have a constant stream of visitors coming to my website wanting to know – are Foxtel subscriptions tax deductible?  So in response to this, I have decided to do another article laying it all out on the table about what the Tax Office really thinks of Foxtel subscriptions, and what your chances are of getting the Ok tick from the ATO in the event of an audit.

Generally, how does the Tax Office view Pay TV subscriptions?

The occupational ruling for employee journalists (Taxation Ruling TR 98/14) addresses the issue of the deductibility of pay TV.

Paragraph 138 of TR 98/14 states that:

a deduction is generally not allowable under section 8-1 of the ITAA 1997 for the cost of access to pay TV, as it is not incurred in gaining assessable income and is a private expense. It is considered that even though a taxpayer may be able to use part of the information obtained in the course of their work, the benefit gained is usually remote and the proportion of the expense that relates directly to work is incidental to the private expenditure.

Although this ruling relates specifically to employee journalists, the principles contained in the ruling can be applied to other occupations.  It should immediately start ringing alarm bells!  If you’re going to attempt to claim Foxtel subscriptions as a tax deduction, then right off the bat you’re on the wrong side of the ATO.

When will my Pay TV subscriptions be tax deductible?

An example of where pay TV subscriptions will be tax deductible is contained in paragraph 140 of TR 98/14:

Phil is a sports writer employed by a metropolitan newspaper. Phil specialises in test cricket and provides coverage for his employer on all the test matches played in the region. Some of the matches Phil is required to cover are only screened on Pay TV and Phil subscribes to a Pay TV provider in order to compile a report on those test matches. Phil also uses his Pay TV access for private purposes. The work-related portion of Phil’s monthly access fee is an allowable deduction.

Although Phil is a journalist, the basic principles in this article are still the same and can be applied to any occupation.

Another indication of how the Tax Office treats pay TV subscriptions is contained in ATO ID 2002/484.  Note that an ATO Interpretative Decision (ATO ID) does not provide precedents at law, but they do however give a general indication of how the Tax Office may view an attempt at claiming a tax deduction.

In this particular ATO ID an accountant was allowed to claim the cost of an educational channel which he used as part of his professional development hours.  The channel was not part of the standard base package supplied by the pay TV operator, but was an optional add-on with an additional fee. Therefore, the accountant was only allowed to claim the additional fee he paid to have access to that particular channel.  You can read more about ATO ID 2002/484 here.

How do I calculate my claim and what records do I need to keep?

If there is one thing to learn from this article, it’s that – as a work related tax deduction, pay TV subscriptions will almost never be 100 percent tax deductible.  Therefore it will be necessary to split your claim between the work related portion and the private portion.

The Tax Office shows us the correct way to do this through paragraph 140 of TR 98/14:

Paragraph 140 states that the taxpayer must calculate the correct work related/private portion by keeping a diary over a period of one month to establish a normal pattern of usage.

 

Warning:  If attempting to make this claim, you need to be looking very carefully at your intention when you subscribe to pay TV.  If your intention was to watch footy with the boys, it won’t matter whether there is some legitimate work related use.   The Tax Office are very strict on this – in the event of an audit they will look at the sole purpose of subscribing to pay TV.  If it is private, then your TOTAL claim will be denied.  Now let’s be honest folks.  How many of you really sign up for pay TV just so you can watch education channels for work.

My Final Word

When you have an expense that has such a massive private element, the Tax Office are more inclined to keep a watchful eye over attempts to claim it as a tax deduction.  Unless you’re a journalist, you are certainly putting yourself in the spotlight.  I would not attempt to make the claim until you have submitted an application to the tax office for a private binding ruling.  See my article on How to Submit a Private Ruling.

Lastly, if you’re one of the lucky taxpayers that may be eligible to claim a portion of their Foxtel subscription, it then begs the question of whether you can claim a portion of your flat screen Television…

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This information, facts, insights and ideas (“Content”) are for general informational purposes only and nothing contained in it is or is intended to be, construed as advice. It does not take into account your individual objectives, financial situation or needs. It should not be used, relied upon or treated as a substitute for specific or professional advice. You should, before you act or use any of this Content, consider the appropriateness of this information having regard to your own personal objectives, financial situation and needs. It should not be your only source of information but should be treated as a guide only. You should obtain your own independent professional advice before making any decision based on this information.

 In no event will we be liable for any loss or damage including and without limitation, indirect or consequential loss or damage, or any loss or damage howsoever arising from, out of, or in connection with the use of this Content.

Tax deductions for tradesmen

November 12th, 2013

Tax deductions for tradesmen

TAX DEDUCTIONS FOR TRADESMEN

 

Instead of covering every tax deduction claimed by tradesmen, I’m going to focus on a few areas that still seem to be a cause of confusion with the boys.

 Protective clothing and laundry expenses

Many Tradies still don’t understand what the definition of protective clothing is according to the Tax Office.  The ATO define protective clothing as:

Protective clothing and footwear to protect you from the risk of illness or injury, or to prevent damage to your ordinary clothes, caused by your work or work environment. Items may include fire-resistant clothing, sun protection clothing, safety-coloured vests, steel-capped boots, gloves, overalls, aprons, and heavy-duty shirts and trousers.

Unfortunately, this definition is very vague, and still leaves countless questions unanswered.  What is heavy-duty?  Does it need to be a particular colour?  Does it need to be a particular fabric?  Lots of questions, with not many answers according to the ATO website.  TR 2003/16 is the place you need to go if you’re really looking for answers.  This ruling is packed with examples of what constitutes protective clothing and more importantly what doesn’t!

One last point on this topic – your protective clothing DOES NOT NEED A COMPANY LOGO to be able to claim a tax deduction for its purchase and associated laundry expenses.   

Sunglasses

Sunglasses are a legitimate claim for tradies if they are required to either:

  • Work outside for most of the day; or
  • They spend a lot of time driving as part of their job position.

Prescription sunglasses are also claimable.  Note, however, that if your sunglasses cost more than $300 you will need to depreciate them.  

Mobile Phone

Tradies often have to carry a mobile phone between work sites to make work related phone calls or be contactable by their boss.

If you use a mobile phone for both personal and work purposes, you can only attribute a percentage of the total cost to work-related expenses. The written evidence required for this is an analysis of 4 weeks of phone usage – dividing up how much usage was work-related, and how much was personal. This percentage can then be used as a calculation for the rest of the year.

Although the Tax Office suggests looking through a phone bill and working out the percentage of calls that were work-related vs. personal, it’s somewhat ambiguous now that mobile phone plans include add-on services like data, SMS, etc.  

Just make sure whatever approach you take in working out your work related percentage of your mobile phone, it is defensible in the event of an audit.  Note, that a letter from your employer stating why you need to use your mobile for work will be looked on favourably by the ATO.  I suggest you obtain one of these to keep on record, especially if your mobile phone claim is large.

Sunscreen – do I need a receipt?

As a tradie working outside in the sun, you are entitled to claim sunscreen.  Unless your total work related expenses are less than $300, then unfortunately you will need to keep a receipt to make this claim.  There is, however, one small clause in the substantiation rules that will allow you to claim sunscreen without a receipt as long as you record the purchase in a diary.  To be eligible for this bonus, each item of sunscreen must have cost less than $10, and you can’t claim over $200 in total under this part of the tax law.  To find out more about claiming items without a receipt read my article You don’t need a receipt for every tax deduction you want to claim.

 

This information, facts, insights and ideas (“Content”) are for general informational purposes only and nothing contained in it is or is intended to be, construed as advice. It does not take into account your individual objectives, financial situation or needs. It should not be used, relied upon or treated as a substitute for specific or professional advice. You should, before you act or use any of this Content, consider the appropriateness of this information having regard to your own personal objectives, financial situation and needs. It should not be your only source of information but should be treated as a guide only. You should obtain your own independent professional advice before making any decision based on this information.

 In no event will we be liable for any loss or damage including and without limitation, indirect or consequential loss or damage, or any loss or damage howsoever arising from, out of, or in connection with the use of this Content.

Tax Deductions for Teachers

October 28th, 2013

Tax Deductions for Teachers

TAX DEDUCTIONS FOR TEACHERS

The most commonly claimed tax deductions for teachers are:

Internet

Teachers can claim home internet for studying, working and doing research at home.  For substantiation purposes the teacher will need to keep a four week diary to establish a pattern between work related and private internet use.

Home office at 34c per hour

If you study, work or do research at home then you can claim 34c per hour to cover your gas, electricity and furniture depreciation.  To make this claim you don’t need to have a separate home office.  You just need to be working in a room in the house at a time when other family members are not present.   For substantiation purposes you will need to keep a diary for 4 weeks, recording all the hours you were doing work related tasks.  The number of hours you come up with over that 4 week period can be used as a basis for the rest of the year.  The ATO has a great calculator for working out this claim.  You can find it here at the Australian Taxation Office website  

Laptops, iPads and Desktop Computers

Perhaps the most common tax deductions for teachers are iPads, Laptops and Computers.  If you study, work or do research at home then you can claim an iPad, laptop or desktop computer as a tax deduction.  Technology has become an essential part of the classroom, and therefore it is not unusual to find teachers claiming all three of these items.  Just remember to keep a 4 week diary for each electronic device that you want to claim to establish a pattern of work related and private use.  For further information on keeping diary records see my article on Claiming Home Internet as a Tax Deduction.   Some schools offer laptops and iPad’s by way of salary sacrifice.  In many cases you can be substantially better off by salary sacrificing rather than depreciating these items in your tax return.  I suggest you speak to your accountant about the difference between the two options and the benefits each option offers depending on your individual circumstances.

Stationery and Teaching Aids

If you study, work or do research at home then you can claim stationery as a tax deduction.  Stationery includes things like printer cartridges, paper, books, pens and USB’s.  These items are extremely popular tax deductions for teachers.  If you didn’t keep receipts for some of these smaller items you may still be able to claim them by recording them in a diary.  Check out my article Do you Know you Don’t Need a Receipt for every Tax Deduction you Want to Claim. Any resources and teaching aids you buy for the classroom will also be tax deductible. Larger items purchased to use in the classroom, such as televisions, projectors, digital camera’s, cooking equipment and sports equipment can also be claimed as a tax deduction.  Just make sure that you depreciate the item over its useful life if it costs more than $300.  Note that if you use an asset for private purposes as well as for the classroom, you will need to keep a diary for four weeks to establish a pattern of work related and private use.  

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Donation receipt – do I need one?

October 25th, 2013

 fire

 

Donation receipt – do I need one?

It’s been a tragic week with the NSW bushfires.  Therefore, I thought it was a rather appropriate week to talk about donations, and the do’s and don’ts when it comes to claiming them in your tax return and whether you need a donation receipt.

Firstly for a donation to be tax deductible it must:

1.  Really be a gift.  The main thing to remember here, is that you can’t receive something for your money.  Raffle tickets, pens, chocolates, the cost of attending fund-raising dinners and membership fees are all examples of situations where the ATO would class you as receiving something for your money, and therefore the donation would not be tax deductible.  The only thing you can receive for your money is a sticker or a badge.

2.  Be either a gift of money of more than $2, or an eligible gift of shares or property.  The nuts and bolts of this point are – if you’re going to throw change in the donation tin, make sure it’s not less than $2 or you won’t be able to claim a tax deduction.

3.  Comply with any relevant gift conditions.  For example, some organisations only have Deductible Gift Recipient status for a certain time period.  If your donation is not made in this time then it is not tax deductible.  Disaster relief appeals are normally subject to these type of time restrictions.

4.  Be a deductible gift recipient (DGR)

A deductible gift recipient (DGR) is an organisation that is entitled to receive tax deductible gifts. DGR’s are:

  • Listed by name in the tax law, or
  • Endorsed by the Tax Office.

To check whether an organisation is a deductible gift recipient (DGR) visit the Australian Taxation Office here:

“Do I need to keep a receipt?” 

Times are tough at the moment, people are doing it hard, and not-for-profit organisations are not getting the funds they need to help others.  Throw natural disasters in the mix, and it is no wonder we are seeing not-for-profit organisations everywhere taking to the streets with the donation tins desperately trying to raise money.

In response to this, the tax office now has special rules when it comes to keeping receipts for donations made to natural disaster appeals.  They allow the following:

“If you have made one or more donations of $2 or more to bucket collections conducted by an approved organisation for an approved bucket appeal, you can claim a tax deduction equal to your donation without a receipt if your donation is $10 or less.”

The ATO has a list of approved organisations on their website.

As for any other types of donations, unfortunately you will need a receipt.

Some people seem to believe that they can claim up to a certain limit of small donations without receipts.  Trust me, this is a fairy tale or story that someone has made up, and it’s not true!  You must have a receipt.

If you were unable to obtain a receipt then I suggest you do the following:

– Record the entry in a diary with the date, the place that you gave the donation, the amount, and who you gave the donation to.

– If you made the donation via EFT or Visa then keep any relevant bank statements or visa statements that have details of the donation.  In most cases, if you made the donation directly from your bank account, bank statements should be sufficient evidence if you write on the bank statements what the donation was for.

– Keep any other information that you were given at the time of making the donation such as a sticker or badge that will help prove you made the donation.

– Document clearly why you were unable to obtain a receipt.

If you were unable to obtain a receipt, I suggest you read Australian Taxation Office Practice Statement – Substantiation of Deductions.  This will give you guidance on what type of argument you will need in case of an audit where you’re missing receipts.

Lastly, you will often hear me say that the decisions we make in life should not always guided by the monetary benefit we will receive in return.  Nothing rings truer than donations for sudden disasters such as fire and flood.  Who cares if you don’t get a tax deduction for a $20 donation.  If it helps give one family who has lost everything a bed to sleep in or food on the table, then in my eyes it is absolutely worth it!

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                • the top mistakes taxpayers make when lodging their own tax online through e-tax and other online return providers
                • get tips on avoiding an audit
                • get tips on how to maximise your tax refund

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This information, facts, insights and ideas (“Content”) are for general informational purposes only and nothing contained in it is or is intended to be, construed as advice. It does not take into account your individual objectives, financial situation or needs. It should not be used, relied upon or treated as a substitute for specific or professional advice. You should, before you act or use any of this Content, consider the appropriateness of this information having regard to your own personal objectives, financial situation and needs. It should not be your only source of information but should be treated as a guide only. You should obtain your own independent professional advice before making any decision based on this information.

 In no event will we be liable for any loss or damage including and without limitation, indirect or consequential loss or damage, or any loss or damage howsoever arising from, out of, or in connection with the use of this Content.

 

 

Claiming Travel to See your Tax Agent as a Tax Deduction.

October 20th, 2013

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 Claiming Travel to see your Tax Agent as a Tax Deduction 

If you travel to see a registered tax agent then you can claim it as a tax deduction.

People travel to see their tax agent for a number of different reasons:

–          To sign forms

–          To pick up cheques

–          To get tax advice

–          To pay bills

–          To get their tax return lodged

–          To drop of information

Travel to your tax agent can be done in a variety of ways:

–          By bus

–          By taxi

–          By plane if you live in a different town or state

–          By car

–          By train

If you live in a different town or state to your tax agent and you are required to stay overnight to visit your tax agent, then your accommodation and meals may also be tax deductible.  Just remember that if there is any private element to the trip, then it needs to be taken into account.

“I normally drive my own car to see my accountant. How do I make the claim in my tax return?”

The most common way to claim travel in your car to see your tax agent is via the Cents Per Kilometre Method.  Under this method you add up the total number of kilometres travelled to see your tax agent and multiply it by the Cents Per Kilometre rate/100.  

You can find out more about the Cents Per Kilometre Method of claiming your car here.

For Example: Jo Blog lives 20 km from his tax agent.  He works as a bar attendant at the local hotel down the road.  He owns his own car and the only thing he ever claims in his tax return is laundry.  Jo has traveled in his own car to see his tax agent three times this year.  Once to get his tax return done, one week later he returned with missing information that his accountant required to lodge his tax return, and three weeks later he returned to pick up his tax cheque. The trips can be claimed in the tax year they were undertaken, regardless of what years tax return they related to.

The three trips totaled 120km for the year.  The cents per kilometre rate for a 6 cylinder car is 75c.   Jo will claim 120km x 75c /100 = $90 as a tax deduction.

For an average person paying tax at 34c in the dollar this would amount to an extra $30 in their tax refund at the end of the year.

Note that under this method of car claim, you will not need to keep receipts for your fuel and car expenses.  You will, however, need to keep a list of the trips that you made to see your tax agent with details of:

  • The purpose of the trip
  • The date of the trip
  • The number of kilometres traveled for each trip

Warning:  if you are using this method to claim travel to see your tax agent, you need to be aware that the Cents Per Kilometre method of car claim is capped at 5000km across your entire tax return.  Therefore, if you’re already claiming car travel elsewhere in your tax return, you need to be careful you don’t over claim.

Travel to see your tax agent is claimed at item D10 on your tax return.  You can find out more about item D10 here.

If travel to see your tax agent involved another form of transport such as bus or airfares, you will need to keep receipts.  I also strongly suggest that before you go making any claim, you speak with the Australian Taxation Office or a registered tax agent to discuss your individual circumstances.  

 

This information, facts, insights and ideas (“Content”) are for general informational purposes only and nothing contained in it is or is intended to be, construed as advice. It does not take into account your individual objectives, financial situation or needs. It should not be used, relied upon or treated as a substitute for specific or professional advice. You should, before you act or use any of this Content, consider the appropriateness of this information having regard to your own personal objectives, financial situation and needs. It should not be your only source of information but should be treated as a guide only. You should obtain your own independent professional advice before making any decision based on this information.

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Laundry Tax Deduction

October 14th, 2013

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Laundry Tax Deduction

Of all the tax deductions claimed in Australian tax returns, laundry would have to be the most common.  In fact you wouldn’t be Aussie if you haven’t made this claim at least once!

Following are the two main methods for claiming laundry as a tax deduction:

Method 1:

It is common for people who work full time and have a uniform or wear protective clothing at work, to claim a tax deduction of $150 for washing their clothes.

In order to make this claim the tax office states the following:

Where a taxpayer does not keep written evidence of their laundry expenses, the Commissioner will allow:

  • A claim of $1 per load (which covers washing, drying and ironing) in situations where only work related clothing is being laundered, and
  •  50 cents per load where both private and work related clothing is being laundered at the same time.

The above is hereafter referred to as the ‘Commissioner’s estimate’.  If the Commissioner’s estimate is used, a taxpayer should keep details of the number of washes that were done during the year, and what type of clothes (work related, private or both) were included in each wash.

Therefore, I suggest, before you run off and claim the full $150, you keep a diary to make sure you have actually done enough loads of washing to warrant the maximum $150 claim.  If you don’t, you may just find yourself in trouble when the tax office comes knocking.

Method 2:

The second method of claiming laundry is one that few people know about.  This method will give you a great result if you’re planning on buying a new washing machine, and the amount of times you wash your work clothes in a week is rather high.  It’s a little harder to understand than your basic $150 method above.  However, if you take the time to keep your receipts and crunch your numbers, your tax refund will look so much healthier.

Under this method you keep receipts and calculate the actual cost of each load of washing rather than using the commissioners estimate.  You may then be able to claim the following expenses:

–          A percentage of depreciation on your washing machine

–          A percentage of depreciation on your dryer

–          Washing Powder

–          Fabric Softner

–          Your Iron

–          Electricity for the running of your appliances

–          Water for your washing machine

 

You can read up on both methods here at Taxation Ruling 98/5.  For those of you that lodge your own tax via Etax I suggest you get to know this ruling really well.  That way you can sleep at night knowing that if the Tax Office come knocking your records are in order.

 

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T

his information, facts, insights and ideas (“Content”) are for general informational purposes only and nothing contained in it is or is intended to be, construed as advice. It does not take into account your individual objectives, financial situation or needs. It should not be used, relied upon or treated as a substitute for specific or professional advice. You should, before you act or use any of this Content, consider the appropriateness of this information having regard to your own personal objectives, financial situation and needs. It should not be your only source of information but should be treated as a guide only. You should obtain your own independent professional advice before making any decision based on this information.

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How to Claim Home Internet as a Tax Deduction

August 30th, 2013

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How to claim home internet as a tax deduction.

E-tax is such a great program and I can’t recommend it enough for anyone with a fairly basic tax return.  Unfortunately, there are many people lodging their tax online that are missing tax deductions and basically ripping themselves off.  There is no point lodging your own tax return for nothing if you are missing important tax deductions and costing yourself money. 

Internet, laptops and iPads are one of the most common tax deductions missed by those lodging their own tax online.

Do you do any of the following at home:

  • Study a course that is related to your job
  • Professional development or research related to your job
  • Work from home on certain days or take work home at night.
  • Do management related duties such as doing rosters at home.

If you do, then you may be entitled to claim your laptop, iPad and internet costs as a tax deduction.

What records will you need to keep?

Internet

If you are claiming home internet, you will need to keep a diary for 4 weeks showing the hours you used your internet for work/study and the hours you used the internet for private purposes.  Once you have worked out the work related percentage over the 4 weeks, you can claim this percentage of your internet as a tax deduction for the rest of the year.

You will also need to keep your internet bills for the entire year.  I suggest getting your internet provider to email your monthly statements rather than receiving them through the mail.  That way you can save down the statement each month into an electronic file called ‘Tax Records’.

Laptop or iPad

If you are claiming your laptop or iPad, then you will need to keep a 4 week diary showing the hours you used it for work/study, and the hours you used it for private purposes.  Once you have worked out the work related percentage over the 4 weeks, you can claim this percentage of your laptop/iPad as a tax deduction

You will also need to keep the invoice with proof of purchase of your laptop or iPad.  I suggest asking the store where you made your purchase to email you a copy of your invoice.  Most are happy to do this if you ask them at the time of purchase.  That way you can save it down into a Tax Records folder.

Note that if your iPad or laptop cost over $300 then you will need to depreciate it.  The Australian Taxation Office has a great online calculator for working out depreciation.  You can check it out here.  It’s really hard to find if you don’t know the link so I suggest you go there now and add the link to your favourites.

My Recommendations

If you would like to read what the tax office says about claiming internet you can check it out here.

If you want to read what the tax office says about invoices and the details they will be looking for in the event of an audit you can read it here.

My Final Word

Lastly, if you think that you might be entitled to claim your laptop or internet as a tax deduction, then I suggest you get in contact with your accountant.  Not only do most accountants have free spreadsheets that you can use to record your 4 week diary usage, but they will also be able to give advice on your eligibility to claim a tax deduction depending on your circumstances.  If you lodge your tax online and can’t afford an accountant, then I suggest you phone the tax office and ask for some further information on your eligibility to claim, and how you should set out your 4 week diary.

 

This information, facts, insights and ideas (“Content”) are for general informational purposes only and nothing contained in it is or is intended to be, construed as advice. It does not take into account your individual objectives, financial situation or needs. It should not be used, relied upon or treated as a substitute for specific or professional advice. You should, before you act or use any of this Content, consider the appropriateness of this information having regard to your own personal objectives, financial situation and needs. It should not be your only source of information but should be treated as a guide only. You should obtain your own independent professional advice before making any decision based on this information.

In no event will we be liable for any loss or damage including and without limitation, indirect or consequential loss or damage, or any loss or damage howsoever arising from, out of, or in connection with the use of this Content.

Tax deductions without receipts

August 12th, 2013

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Tax deductions without receipts

You may be able to claim a tax deduction without a receipt!

Many of you are aware that you can claim up to $300 of work related tax deductions without receipts.  You also have probably been told that if you go over that threshold then you need to keep a receipt for everything.  Well this is not technically correct!

The Tax Office allows up to $200 worth of small items costing less than $10 each to be claimed as a tax deduction without a receipt if they are recorded in a diary.  There are so many people that could make more use of this little bonus generously provided to us by the tax office.  Here is an example of some of the potential work related tax deductions that cost less than $10:

  • USB’s
  • Printer Paper
  • Printer cartridges
  • Batteries
  • Pens
  • Pencil Case
  • Rulers
  • Highlighters
  • Computer Mouse
  • Folders
  • Note Pads
  • Note Books
  • Plastic Sleeves
  • DVD’s
  • Diaries
  • Hole Punch
  • Stapler
  • Washing Powder if you are using your own estimate to claim laundry expenses
  • Small tools
  • Watch
  • Calculators
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Hats

Small items really do add up.  Unfortunately they are often purchased as a spare of the moment thought while pushing the trolley down the stationery isle in Woolworths or Coles.  The last thing we have time to remember after getting through the checkout, navigating our way out the car park and getting home, is to file our grocery receipt with our tax records just because we purchased a $5 stapler.  In fact, if you’re anything like me, your receipt gets left sitting at the self-serve checkout in exactly the same spot as the machine spat them out.  So if your receipt ends up in the bin, then you can make the following entry in your diary:

1st August 2011  Woolworths        Stapler              $5

Note that your diary entry must include the date, a description of the item purchased, the place you purchased it from, and the amount.

So remember each item has to be less than $10, and the maximum you can claim using this method is $200.  Also, don’t forget the most important thing of all – the item must be related to the earning of your assessable income to be able to claim a tax deduction in the first place.

 

My final word

Still can’t be bothered filling in your diary?  Well maybe this will help!  The average Australian salary/wage tax payer is in the 32c in the dollar tax bracket.  An extra $200 tax deduction will mean around an extra $80 in your tax refund.  Ladies that is a pair of shoes, and guys that’s a new power tool for the shed.  Every little bit counts!

 

I Recommend

If you would like to read the section of the tax act that this article relates to you can read it here

I also recommend this practice statement from the Australian Tax Office – Substantiation of deductions claimed by individual taxpayers for work and car expenses incurred in the course of earning non-business and non-investment income.   It has some great information on what the tax office will accept in regards to electronic records.  Many clients often ask if a bank statement or credit card statement will suffice as a receipt for the ATO.  Well this practice statement will give you the answer!

Did you like this article?  Why not download our free book!

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Online Tax Returns

This tax book includes information on:

                • the top mistakes taxpayers make when lodging their own tax online through e-tax and other online return providers
                • get tips on avoiding an audit
                • get tips on how to maximise your tax refund

Online Tax 2

 

This information, facts, insights and ideas (“Content”) are for general informational purposes only and nothing contained in it is or is intended to be, construed as advice. It does not take into account your individual objectives, financial situation or needs. It should not be used, relied upon or treated as a substitute for specific or professional advice. You should, before you act or use any of this Content, consider the appropriateness of this information having regard to your own personal objectives, financial situation and needs. It should not be your only source of information but should be treated as a guide only. You should obtain your own independent professional advice before making any decision based on this information.

 In no event will we be liable for any loss or damage including and without limitation, indirect or consequential loss or damage, or any loss or damage howsoever arising from, out of, or in connection with the use of this Content.