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The 5 tax deductions office workers need to know about

Tax deductions, office workers

Working professionals might not be getting all they deserve when tax time rolls around, a tax agent has said, and taxpayers should know what they can claim.

 According to Liz Russell, senior tax agent at etax, office workers may not realise that they are entitled to several deductions. 

1.     Car expenses and travel costs

She said workers “may be surprised” to learn they can claim travel costs associated with work-related activities.

“While this doesn’t include the cost of travelling to and from work, maybe you’ve had to deliver or pick up items from another office or a warehouse or perhaps, you’ve been asked to run errands to prepare for a work-related meeting or event,” she said.

In this instance, where the costs have been paid for out of the employee’s pocket, expenses can be claimed on the tax return.

2.     Buying office tools or work-related items

This type of spending can add up, Ms Russell noted, pointing out that money spent on a workbag for a laptop or tablet can “generally be claimed”.

“Many office workers also need to purchase their own stationary or notebooks to jot down their to-do list. These items can also be claimed at tax time, she said.

“But you need to have purchased the items yourself. If your employer has reimbursed part or all of the costs of those tools, you can only claim for the amount that you’re out of pocket.

“Further, if you’re using those tools for personal use as well, you can only claim for the percentage that you use it for work.”

3.     Professional development

Many costs associated with job-related training like course fees, travel and accommodation, are tax deductible.

However, self-education expenses can only be claimed if you’re gaining a formal qualification for your actual role.

“That means you can’t claim a fashion design course if you work as an admin right now,” Ms Russell said.

“You might take a writing workshop because you’re in charge of the company blog, participate in a communications class to improve your client management skills or upskill in software that you’re required to use in your current position. And these expenses are all tax deductible.”

4.     Do you have a home office?

If your business offers work from home arrangements that you use, then you may be able to claim certain expenses.

For example, you may be eligible to claim heating, phone or equipment expenses.

“But you need to either record how often you use the space for at least four weeks to create what’s called an ‘established pattern of use’ or charge your use at a rate of 45 cents per hour,” Ms Russell explained.

“It’s also important to remember that checking your emails in the evening doesn’t count as working from home – at least, not to the ATO. And if you work in the living room where other people watch the television, you can’t claim running expenses for that space.”

5.     Other deductions

You may also be able to claim the work-related portion of personal mobile phone costs or subscriptions to job related journals and income protection premiums outside of super. 

However, Ms Russell noted, the golden rule is to properly record these expenses.

The 5 tax deductions office workers need to know about
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