Finance Your Budget ATO allows deductions for sanitiser, face masks and COVID-related expenses
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ATO allows deductions for sanitiser, face masks and COVID-related expenses

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Hand sanitisers and gloves are tax deductible, depending on your line of work. Photo: Getty
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Australians who were required to stump up cash towards face masks and gloves to protect themselves at work can claim those expenses as tax deductions, the Australian Tax Office has confirmed.

Recognising the new challenges coronavirus has presented Australians as they finalise their tax returns, the ATO has released a suite of new resources to help people understand what they can and can’t claim.

Among the pandemic-related additions are soaps, face masks, hand sanitisers and gloves.

ATO assistant commissioner Karen Foat said healthcare, retail and hospitality workers would be the most likely to benefit.

“Taxpayers working in jobs that require physical contact or close proximity with customers or clients during COVID-19 measures may be able to claim a deduction for items such as gloves, face masks, sanitiser or anti-bacterial spray if they have paid for the items and not been reimbursed,” Ms Foat said.

Workers who purchased personal protective equipment (PPE) to work through summer’s horrific bushfire season are also eligible for these deductions.

Working from home deductions a key priority: ATO

Ms Foat expects the numbers of remote work-related deductions to soar, after employers across the country requested their workers work from home after the national lockdown in March.

Coinciding with the anticipated rise in demand, the ATO has introduced a temporary 80 cents-per-hour deduction method for first-timers to efficiently claim working from home expenses.

“If you use the shortcut method, all you need to do is keep a record of the hours you worked from home as evidence of your claim,” Ms Foat said.
“But it is all inclusive, meaning you can’t claim for any other working from home expenses.”

H&R Block director of tax communications Mark Chapman has previously told The New Daily workers could receive a larger tax refund if they opt for the conventional receipts method.

This depends on how many work-related purchases made in lockdown, including items like computer equipment, furniture, stationery and – in the case of home owners – workspace-related portions of household energy, phone and internet bills.

It also requires workers to maintain records that can be called upon if the ATO chooses to audit a worker’s claims.

ATO will be vigilant on workers claiming too much tax

Although the number of working from home claims is expected to rocket, the ATO predicts more workers will lodge tax returns that include non-deductible expenses.

Ms Foat said the auditors in particular will be clamping down on workers who claim for laundry expenses if they were not required to wear a work  uniform while at home, or travel if it’s not related to their job.

And workers who were required to travel to the office one day a week while in lockdown are unable to claim those expenses.

“It’s still important to meet the three golden rules: You must have spent the money and not have been reimbursed, it must relate directly to earning your income, and you must have a record to prove it,” Ms Foat said.

More information on the ATO’s ‘Tax Time Essentials’ for the 2019-20 financial year can be found at this link.