There’s no escaping it’s tax return time again.
Is it something you enjoy or do you, like so many, find it a nightmare of receipts and numbers?
Adding to the confusion is knowing what you can and can’t claim, especially if you have been working from home in recent months.
To make it easier the ANMJ reached out to the Australian Taxation Office to demystify what nurses, midwives and carers can claim on the job and for those who have found themselves working from home.
To claim a deduction for work related expenses you must have spent the money yourself and weren’t reimbursed. It must be directly related to earning your income and you must have a record to prove it. You can only claim the work-related part of the expenses.
You can claim a deduction when you:
- Drive between separate jobs on the same day- eg. travelling from your job as a carer to a second job as a musician.
- Drive to and from an alternative workplace for the same employer on the same day- eg. Driving from your usual clinic to another clinic to work for the same employer.
You generally can’t claim the costs of trips between home and work. There are limited circumstances where you can claim the trips between home and work, such as bulky scales AND only if:
- Your employer requires you to transport the equipment for work
- The equipment was essential to earning you income
- There was no secure area to store the equipment at the work location, and
- The equipment is bulky- at least 20kg or cumbersome to transport.
If you do claim car expenses, you need to keep a log book to determine the work related percentage, or be able to demonstrate to the ATO a reasonable calculation if you use the cents per kilometre method to claim.
Phone and internet expenses
You can claim phone and internet usage if your employer need you to use your personal devices for work.
You can only claim the work-related portion of the use of your personal device.
You can claim a deduction for the cost of buying, hiring, mending or cleaning certain uniforms that are unique and distinctive to your job, or protective clothing, eg. non-slip nursing shoes or supportive stockings that your employer requires you to wear.
You can’t claim a deduction for the cost of buying or cleaning plain clothing worn at work, even if the employer tells you to wear it and even if you wear it for work, eg. Black pants and a white shirt.
You can claim a deduction for self-education expenses if your course relates directly to your current job, eg. wound course
You can’t claim a deduction if your study is only related in a general way or is designed to help get you a new job- eg. you can’t claim the cost of study to move from being a carer to registered nurse.
Other common deductible work-related expenses
As long as the expense relates to your employment, you can claim a deduction for work-related portion of the cost of:
- Union and professional association fees
- Agency commissions and agency fees and annual practising certificate fees
- Technical or professional publications
Working from Home
There are special arrangements this year due to COVID-19 to make it easier for people to claim deductions for working from home.
The new arrangement will allow people to claim a rate of 80 cents per hour for all their running expenses, rather than needing to calculate costs for specific running expenses.
Multiple people living in the same house can claim this new rate. For example, a couple living together could each individually claim the 80 cents per hour rate. The requirement to have a dedicated work from home area has also been removed.
Claiming the rate of 80 cents per hour and will require you to keep a record of the number of hours worked from home as evidence of your claim.
Alternatively, you can claim a rate of 52 cents per work hour for heating, cooling, lighting, cleaning and the decline in value of office furniture, plus calculate the work-related portion of your phone and internet expenses, computer consumables, stationery and the decline in value of a computer, laptop or similar device, OR
claim the actual work-related portion of all your running expenses, which you need to calculate on a reasonable basis.
Claims for working from home expenses prior to 1 March 2020 cannot be calculated using the shortcut method, and must use the pre-existing working from home approach and requirements.
The ATO will review the special arrangement for the next financial year as the COVID-19 situation progresses.
More information about working from home is available visit the ATO