If you haven't filled out your 2016-2017 tax return yet, you better get on it. But before you lodge anything, it pays to do some research on what you can actually claim. Depending on your line of work, you may be eligible for a refund on everything from pet dogs to Netflix! Here are five unusual deductions that you need to consider.
Each year, the Australian Tax Office sets its focus on particular areas they'll be honing in on as they review tax returns and where we're trying to reduce our taxes. This year is no different with cryptocurrency earnings, money made from new platforms like Uber, home office expenses and work-related claims on their hitlist.
The following tips were supplied by Mark Chapman, director of tax communications at H&R Block. Mark has more than 20 years experience as a tax adviser, including seven years as a senior director for the ATO - so he's seen almost every type of deduction. Here are five of the weirdest.
"If you’re an outdoor worker, such as a tradie, construction worker or farmer, you can claim sunscreen that you purchase to protect you from the ravages of the sun. If its required, other outdoor related attire can be claimed, such as hats, gloves and waterproof clothing if you work in a wet climate."
"If you own a business where an ambience is necessary, claiming works of art could be possible and you might even be able to claim an instant deduction if you’re a small business (aggregate turnover less than $10 million) and the artwork costs less than $20,000. That can help you to tax effectively decorate public facing areas like office receptions, as well as meeting rooms, boardrooms and staff social rooms. Just don’t think you can claim a deduction if that work of art finds its way into your living room!"
Stan and Netflix
"If you subscribe to publications and products that are relevant to your trade or profession, you can claim a tax deduction for the costs. This can include magazines, TV subscriptions and journals. You can also claim subscriptions to professional associations and trade unions."
"If you require a security dog to patrol your premises or if you use a dog in farming (rounding up sheep for instance), you’ll be able to claim a deduction for depreciation on the animal plus an immediate deduction for maintenance costs like food and vet bills.
"The animal needs to be appropriate for the purposes; if you try to argue that your pet poodle is deductible as a guard dog, the taxman might push back."
"If you work from home as part of your job and maintain a home office, you can claim the appropriate proportion of some of your household bills as a work-related deduction. That could include electricity and other utility bills, as well as depreciation on office equipment and furniture and costs incurred in keeping your home office clean. You can either claim actual costs based on a diary kept for a representative four week period or claim a flat rate deduction of 45 cents per hour."
Pretty cool, huh? But there's one important caveat: For a work expense to be claimable, you need to have spent the money yourself and not been reimbursed by your employer. Obviously, it must also relate to your job and you need to keep a record to prove it. If you're unsure, speak to an accountant!