It’s tax time, which means most Australians will be looking to get the most out of claiming work-related expenses.
But with many people working from home for much of the past financial year, employees will be tempted to claim expenses that may exceed the Australian Tax Office (ATO) limit.
Tax agents will get rid of invalid claims, tax experts Elinor Casabides said, but they can also help you find other expenses you are allowed to claim.
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“When it comes to claiming deductions, if you think it’s a ‘yes, no’ situation, the answer is probably ‘yes,'” she said.
“If you are still eager to discuss this point after applying the ‘yes, no’ approach, I recommend that you go over it with your tax agent before putting your head in the lion’s mouth by filing your return.
“The CPA Australia tax agent will get rid of the wrongful claims, and maybe find some deductions you are entitled to but you weren’t aware of.
“Accountants do not want to be a cheerful cop, quite the contrary.
“They are trying to prevent you from getting on the wrong side of the ATO, and to make sure that you get the maximum amount of your money back.”
What you can’t claim on your tax return
Casabidis said there are some claims that simply won’t be accepted by the ATO, including an attempt to claim the cost of daily dog care.
“I went back to the office and the rover wrecked the couch, so now he’s in the dog grooming center. Yes, we saw the Instagram post; no, the cost couldn’t be discounted,” she said.
Other unclaimable expenses related to working from home include work-from-home wardrobe, home décor to spice up the background of the Zoom call, and snacks.
“Sometimes we all need a tim tam or 12 to get through the workday,” Casabides said.
“Your boss may provide pickups at work, but that doesn’t mean you can claim them when you work from home.”
You may also have gone back to work after the COVID-19 pandemic and treated yourself to a new luxury carrying case.
While you can use the bag to carry your laptop to work and back, unfortunately, it does not count as a work-related expense.
“Although your handbag is large enough to hold a laptop, if it is not required to carry business purposes, it is a ‘no’ as a tax deduction,” Casabides said.
The ATO also advises people not to claim the cost of travel to and from work.
What you can claim on your tax return
However, there is a large list of work-related expenses that you can claim on your tax return, including:
- Uniforms and protective materials
- Employment related mobile and internet costs
- Subscriptions and union fees
- Travel expenses between business locations or client locations
If you work from home, you may also be able to claim a deduction for expenses such as electricity, office equipment, and phone and internet bills.