Surprising things you didn’t know you can claim on your tax
It’s that special time of the year. Not as jolly as the holidays or as jovial as a birthday. No, it’s a more anxious time of the year. A time when our attention turns firmly to thoughts of tax tips, deductions and refunds. The good news? Here are surprising things you didn’t know you can claim on your tax.
While we all have to pay taxes, there are various deductions, some are oddly weird, available to help us maximise our tax refund. With a list of tax deductions in your pocket, you have a much better chance of getting back the money you deserve and reducing your stress to basically nil.
Filing your income tax return is a chore that most of us don’t want to think about, but it doesn’t have to be that way. It can be an excellent opportunity to save or get reimbursed for cash you didn’t know you were entitled to. Anything you buy which enables you to earn an income can be claimed. If you use something in both your work and personal life, you may still be able to claim a portion of it.
- VIDEO GAME CONSOLES. Small business owners could claim a range of items bought for staff or client use, including gaming consoles, Foxtel subscriptions, office art and coffee machines. While gaming consoles might seem like a strange example, they might have been bought to “stimulate the wellness or creativity of employees” — which in turn could generate income — and therefore was a legitimate claim. It is also possible to claim food and other incidentals purchased while travelling for work.
- While it might seem like another odd example, any decorative items that were bought to make an investment property more attractive to new tenants could be deducted — including garden gnomes, heated towel rails or clocks. But those items could not be claimed if they were bought for a person’s own property, and in some cases only a portion of the expense could be claimed. Something like maintenance on an investment property is 100 per cent tax deductible, but if you make a capital improvement, then it is deductible, but from a depreciation perspective — so if you put in a $20,000 kitchen, you won’t get $20,000 back.
- GYM MEMBERSHIPS. Objects and services related to specific professions could also be claimed — including gym memberships for people with jobs that require a high level of physical fitness and strength. There were a lot of interesting items for adult entertainment workers to claim, as well as flight attendants and crew who could claim rehydrating moisturisers, stockings and a second pair of shoes. Stage make-up and hair salon fees can also often be deducted by actors, while you can also sometimes claim the family dog if it is used as a guard dog.
- POLITICAL DONATIONS. If you donated some cash to a political party in the lead-up to the May election, you can add it to your tax return — along with charitable donations.
- MAKE-UP. If your job requires you to spend time outdoors, sunscreen and even make-up containing SPF can be deducted. And it’s not just gardeners or people in professions who spend most of their time outdoors who can add this expense — even teachers who perform playground duty can.
- While a Louis Vuitton tote might raise some eyebrows, a portion of the cost of bags, briefcases, satchels and backpacks used for carrying work documents or other items could be claimed.
- Any sort of education or training relating to your paid employment — including self-employment — can be claimed, along with travel and other expenses related to the courses.
It can include things like vocal coaching for singers, even if it’s in-between gigs.
- INVESTMENTS AND INSURANCE. You may be able to claim fees paid for specific investment advice, financial planning advice and the cost of attending investment seminars. It’s also possible to claim income protection insurance and insurance on an income-producing asset.
- PHONE BILLS. Use your phone or work from home at times? Then you may be able to claim a part of your utility bills. For electricity, you can claim up to 45 cents per hour on electricity for any time spent working at home.
- ACCOUNTANT FEES. You can claim the cost of travelling to see your accountant and fees for preparing and lodging your tax return, as well as a range of other costs associated with managing your tax affairs.
- $300. Many people weren’t aware they could claim up to $300 on work-related expenses — even without a receipt. However, according to the ATO website, you’ll still have to meet certain criteria. The cost of the depreciating asset must be $300 or less, it must be used mainly for the purpose of producing assessable income that isn’t income from carrying on a business, it must not be part of a set of assets you start to hold in the income year that costs more than $300, and it can’t be one of a number of identical or substantially identical assets you start to hold in the income year that together costs more than $300.
This is a good starting point as tax liability can be tough to predict. That’s one reason to keep a well-funded emergency fund that you can draw on in the event that your tax bill is bigger than you anticipated one year. You should go into tax season with a plan, not just for how you will pay your taxes but for what you’ll do with any refund you get.
Work with a tax professional and be sure to ask what you might be missing. Put an effort to organise your records and understand your available deductions and you can save tens of thousands of dollars over time. Also, you can avoid penalties and fees. You got this!