Tradies, teachers, retail workers and office workers are eligible for some surprising cash perks come tax time, an accountant has said.
People in these jobs – or doing these as side-hustles – are able to claim some deductions in their tax return that other workers aren’t eligible for, according to Platinum Accounting Australia managing director and certified public accountant Coco Hou.
“The shocking thing is that far too many people who work in these unusual tax return industries do not know even the gold pot they’re sitting on,” Hou said.
“A number of these industries allow workers to claim tax on niche and industry-specific things that aren’t commonly discussed across the board.”
Workers should know about the tax perks they’re eligible for, and claim them if they’re entitled to them, she added.
“The general rule is that if you incur an expense as part of your job and aren’t reimbursed by your employer, you are entitled to make a claim on those work-related items.”
According to Hou, these are the four jobs that get the most tax perks when July rolls around:
Constructions and manufacturing workers in particular can “hit the absolute jackpot” in tax perks if they keep track of all their expenses over the year.
“When it comes to their tools, or other industry-specific equipment that are required to complete their job, they can claim an immediate deduction costing up to $300.”
In fact, a lesser-known tax claim is that tradies can claim a deduction on interest charged on financing equipment, as well as the cost on insuring them.
And in an industry that’s known for overtime hours, tradies who receive an overtime meal allowance might not know they can claim for overtime meal expenses.
“Other expenses to keep in mind for tax time include trade union fees, the fees associated with renewing professional licenses, registrations and subscriptions, and self-education courses that are related to their career at University or TAFE,” Hou added.
Hou says she often sees teachers miss deducting the depreciation on tech such as computers, laptops, printers, mobile phones and tablets that cost more than $300.
“Any of these personal devices that are used for work purposes are absolutely eligible for deductions – talk about a tax perk,” she said.
Additionally, teachers – who will often prepare for lessons at home – can also claim home office expenses like utility bills and internet costs.
“Any stationary, pens, printer cartridges or art materials that they are not reimbursed by the school for are all tax deductible as well.”
Teachers are also eligible to claim deduction on conferences, excursions, and educational courses relating to their career, as well as any out-of-pocket travel, meal or accommodation expenses.
Retail workers who travel from one work location to another are eligible to claim these travel costs at tax time, said Hou.
“It is pretty common for retail staff to be required to take trips between stores to deliver stock or provide a shift cover, so I would encourage them to keep a log of all of the trips they take between these venues in order to claim a deduction,” Hou said.
Staff who have to wear a uniform can also claim the costs of buying and maintaining their workwear.
“While a plain shirt would not qualify, a plain white shirt embroidered with the workplace name absolutely would. Any protective equipment associated with the role can also be claimed under the same guise, including sunscreen, helmets and safety goggles.”
Want to claim your handbag at tax time? You can – with certain conditions, said Hou.
“If a handbag or briefcase is required for work practices like carrying paperwork or a laptop, the cost of it is absolutely claimable for office workers,” she said.
However, the tax office will be less receptive to a luxury handbag with a thousand-dollar price tag than to a functional $200 piece, she warned.
Office-based workers may also be unaware that they can claim the cost of parking, tolls, and public transport on work-related journeys. This does not include the cost of commuting to the office, however.
Aussies working from home can claim home office expenses, too.
What you need to remember
Hou warned that the most important thing for Aussie workers to keep in mind is to keep records, as it won’t matter how many work expenses you’ve racked up in the last 12 months if you haven’t got the receipts or invoices to prove it.
And if Aussies don’t work in these industries, fear not; many other industries also allow for generous tax returns.
“Surgeons can claim deductions on self-education, insurances and licenses that are often a personal expense. Real estate agents claim higher travel and car expenses, as well as licenses,” said Hou.
“Lawyers often need to continue to study to remain ahead in their industry and pay for licenses that enable them to practice, which all qualify for deductions.”
Yahoo Finance will be covering Tax Time 2021 in a few months. Stay tuned for further coverage on how to get the most out of your tax return.