Things you didn’t know you could claim on your tax return


There are many claimable expenses you might not be taking advantage of when tax time rolls around. Here are the strangest work-related items you can claim as deductibles on your next tax return in Australia.

Problem is, with not many Aussies being aware of exactly what they can or cannot claim on their tax returns, a lot of money is lost due to failure to claim a refund. After all, tax deductions fall into a whole new world of accounting and financial stuff that many of us aren’t familiar with. Which is why we will defer to Accountants and specialists, but if you aren’t proactive about asking what you can claim, you will often still miss out.

According to Dr Adrian Raftery, a senior lecturer of the Accounting Department of Deakin University, “If you have more than $300 worth of total deductions then you must have documentary evidence for the full amount – not just the amounts over $300. By all means go to the boundary but not over it!”

It is important to apportion your expenditure between work use and private use in order for a smoother tax return process that allows for minimal error due to missing receipts or lack of monitoring. A good way to keep track of your purchases is to keep a financial bookkeeping journal or get an app on your phone that does it for you.

Here are some weird and lucrative things you can claim in your tax returns.

Sunscreen and sun protection

Sun protection, including makeup with SPF, can be claimed as long as you work outside, but no, meetings outside in the park don’t count. You’ll need to work permanently outside to qualify. Normal makeup can’t be claimed, unless you’re an air hostess in which case rehydrating blends can be claimed.

Wet weather gear and sun protective clothing

Anyone who works outside can also claim wet weather gear as long as your work is full-time outdoor work. Jobs that fall into this category include lifeguards, tradies, construction workers and farmers and claimable items include hats, gloves and waterproof clothing.

Work-specific handbags

This is a huge win for the women out there, but don’t get carried away because your handbag has to be legitimately used for work purposes. If you can prove you carry your work laptop, tablet, calculator or documents in this bag, you can add it to your expenses list. Heads up though ladies, high-end designer bags – such as a $5,000 Gucci tote – will be pushing your luck and can catch the attention of the ATO.

Further education as long as it’s work related

If you work in finance and you’re doing further study within the finance industry related to your current role, you can claim your study expenses. You’ll need to make sure you’re not claiming expenses related to a HECS or HELP study debt, as these don’t qualify. Sadly though, if you’re an accountant studying Art History to win your dream job, you aren’t eligible as the industries aren’t related.

You can claim more power than you thought

You’ve probably heard you can claim some of your home power bill, as long as you work from home, but you have to be specific. You can claim up to 45c per hour of your time spent working from home. The ATO is quite strict on this though, and you’ll need to keep a diary to show the consistency of how often you work from home, maintained for at least four weeks to establish a pattern.

Maintenance and rates related to your investment property

If you have a rental property, you may be eligible to claim everything from council rates to body corporate fees on your tax return. If your home has been damaged, you’re also eligible to claim the costs of repairs in your next return. Some maintenance costs can also be deducted from your tax bill if they’re important to prevent deterioration or fix existing deterioration. This includes things like oiling a wooden deck or painting your property.

Investment seminars of existing holdings

Learning more about your investments is always a good idea, and now you can claim the cost of seminars about your existing investments. Sadly though, you’ll need to already hold the investments mentioned in the seminar, not be considering them to qualify.

Work uniform laundry

If you have a work uniform, you can claim $1 per load of washing, drying and ironing, as long as you have receipts. If you apply to claim more than $300, you will need written evidence though, and it must be a uniform, not just clothes you use for work.

Paintings and recreational items for your small business

Small businesses with a turnover of less than $10 million can write off assets costing less than $20,000 as long as they were purchased between 7:30PM on 12 May 2015 and 30 June 2018. If you’ve been eyeing off a stunning painting for the waiting room of your clinic, now’s the time to buy.

If you qualify for any of the above deductibles, your next tax bill could look quite different. Always confirm which items you can deduct on the ATO website though, as rules can change.

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