Money Your Budget The surprising deductions you can claim on your tax return

The surprising deductions you can claim on your tax return

woman handbag
You could claw back some of the purchase price of your new accessory. Photo: Getty
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Tax time is nearly upon us and it is vital to act now to ensure you get the best deal possible from the taxman when you submit your return after July 1 2017. You may be surprised by what you can claim as a deduction – including handbags, dogs and mobile phones.

Before the financial year ends it is important to make sure you have made all payments that can give you tax deductions for 2016-17. So if you planned to make some tax deductible donations, for example, make sure you do so by June 30.

Mark Chapman, director of tax communications at accounting group H&R Block, said employees may not realise they could be eligible to claim for a handbag they use for work to carry a laptop, work phone or work documents.

“The handbag needs to be fit for work purposes and actually used for work purposes,” Mr Chapman told The New Daily.

“If you subscribe to publications which are relevant to your trade or profession, including magazines, subscription TV and journals, you can claim a tax deduction for the costs. You can also claim subscriptions to professional associations and trade unions.”

Remember donations to some environmental and social justice organisations and even public radio or television stations can be deductible as well as recognised charities and some religious organisations. Be sure to check with the organisation you favour on tax deductibility.

Superannuation is another area to check. Make sure you make any pre- or post-tax contributions planned by June 30. If you were planning to make tax deductible business purchases, make sure you meet the deadline also or you’ll have to carry the cost into next year.

Those in the performing arts can claim what sound like unusual deductions, such as the cost of musical instruments, costumes and props against their tax.

“Similarly, things like dance and acting classes can be claimable if you’re a professional dancer or actor,” Mr Chapman said.

Using that logic you can also claim sex toys and props if you work as a sex worker, stripper or pole dancer, he said.

Even your favourite pooch could be a tax deduction, but it has to be more than your best friend. It’s got to help earn your living by, for example, rounding up the sheep if you’re a farmer, or standing guard if you’re in security.

Education expenses can be a minefield. The tax man will allow a deduction for a a course and related costs like books and transport that enhances your income earning capability or skills and knowledge within your current job.

But if you’re looking to get ahead by retraining for a new profession, then its bad news. You can’t claim for that.

You can also pre-pay some business costs for next year to maximise deductions in the current year. Check with your accountant exactly what you can do here.

If you are one of the growing band of Australians who are partially or fully self-employed with a home office then you could be claiming some of your home costs. These include utilities, cleaning, landline and internet costs and depreciation on office equipment.

Your mobile phone could be a tax deduction, too. If you make and receive work-related calls, texts and emails and surf the internet for work purposes, you can claim the work-related proportion of your mobile phone bills (plus a proportion of the cost of the handset) against your tax.

If you’ve got a rental property some distance away, try to get there to inspect it before June 30. That’s because some high profile political scandals have spurred the government to scrap deductibility for those expenses from July 1. Click on these TaxTips to read more detail on deductions from H&R Block.

Once you have made all your deductible payments you need to think about getting together documentation to back claims you make. Check what sort of claims you can actually make for work related expenses and you may be pleasantly surprised.

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