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Work-Related Expenses – Play Safe!

Work-Related Expenses – Play Safe!

This year the ATO has flagged it’s intention to keep a close eye on the work-related expenses claimed by employees.  Already we are noticing that taxpayers are being notified if their expenses are outside the norm for their occupation, so it’s important to remember some of the basics when it comes to claiming work-related deductions in your return.

Car expenses

  • Trips between home and work cannot be claimed unless your home was a base of employment and you were required to travel to a different workplace to work for the same employer.
  • To get a deduction for carrying bulky tools you need to show that your employer required you to transport all the tools or equipment to work (that is, you did not carry them as a matter of choice or convenience). You also need to show the equipment was essential to earning your income (that is, without the equipment, you couldn’t earn your income), and there was no secure area to store the equipment at work and the equipment was bulky and difficult to transport.

Internet and mobile phone expenses

  • Taxpayers are not entitled to claim mobile phone and internet use that is for private purposes.
  • The ATO will focus on the apportionment between private and work use.
  • The ATO allow a claim of up to $50 for work-related mobile phone and internet use without the need to provide detailed records.

Clothing expenses

  • You can claim a deduction for work clothing if you purchased it and it is uniform, such as those with company logos, and protective gear.
  • You can also claim the cost of laundering these items but you must use a reasonable basis to calculate your expenses.

Self-education expenses

  • Claims for self-education expenses must be related to current employment, not future or desired employment.
  • You may be able to claim a deduction for work-related education expenses if your studies directly relate to your current job, such as upgrading your qualifications or improving specific skills.

Home office and work equipment

  • Accessories such as a bag used specifically for work to transport a laptop, papers or other work-related items in doing your job can be claimed.
  • If you were required by your employer to work from home, you can only claim a percentage of your running expenses for your home office.  For those using the hourly rate method, the rate for the 2017 tax year is 45cents per hour.

Contributed by Alison Eastwood

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