With the end of the financial year fast approaching, now is the time to pull together records of your work-related expenses to help make sure you get a refund cheque from the Australian Tax Office.
Legitimate work-related expenses can extend well beyond car expenses and home office costs to areas you may never have considered, depending on the industry you work in.
Tools of your trade
Adult industry workers, for example, are in a league of their own in being able to claim work-related expenses for consumables such as condoms, lubricants, and even dance lessons, costumes and lingerie.
Police officers are also unique in being able to claim for ammunition, bullet proof jackets and body armour not supplied by their employer. Handcuffs and holsters can also be claimable.
Then there’re performing artists who, in certain circumstances, can claim for fitness costs and theatre and film tickets purchased for “research”.
There are also a number of lesser-known deductions that span multiple industries.
Sunglasses and sunscreens
Did you know you can claim a deduction for the cost of sunglasses, sun hats and sunscreen lotions if the nature of your work requires you to be in the sun and you use these items to protect yourself on the job?
This particular deduction is not available to every sector where workers are sometimes exposed to sunlight. But workers in any industry required to spend regular hours in the open air can rightfully claim for these costs.
On first take, the opportunity to claim a tax deduction on a fashion item such as a handbag may sound a little far-fetched.
But when a handbag is used to carry items such as a laptop computer or other bulky device used specifically for business purposes, the Tax Office takes a different view.
Keep in mind that claiming an expensive designer bag will almost certainly trigger alarms bells. But if a worker can prove the sole purpose of their bag is for work and they are not provided with a laptop bag by their employer, then the tax authorities will be less likely to call you out.
Luggage falls broadly under the same guidelines as handbags (laptop bags), so long as a worker can prove their bag is used exclusively for work and the transportation of work materials such as work brochures or other items.
The main exceptions to this are some workers in the airline sector. Flight attendants, pilots and flight engineers can claim a deduction for the decline in value of their luggage used for work.
Transporting bulky tools
You can claim the cost of using your car to travel between home and work if you need to carry bulky tools and equipment used at work and there is no secure storage area for those tools at your workplace.
This deduction applies to tradespeople, mechanics and building and construction workers, cleaners, long haul truck drivers and others needing to transport bulky items.
It pays to look good in certain industries, which is why the ATO allows performing artists to claim a deduction for the cost of a particular hairstyle if it is required for a role.
Workers in this sector can also claim a deduction for the cost of stage make-up, including the cost of cleansing materials for removing stage make-up, as can adult industry workers.
But be careful, as looking good doesn’t apply to every industry. Hairdressers and shop assistants cannot claim for personal grooming costs.
Airline workers can claim for moisturisers and hair conditioners in recognition of their exposure to the abnormal dry environment inside pressurised aircraft.