So, did you hear the one about the police officer who made payments to informants and was then able claim these payments as deductions on his tax return; or the one about the personal secretary who was allowed a deduction for the cost of additional daily changes of clothing?
Believe it or not such deductions and many other “quirky deductions” may be allowable, depending on your circumstances, helping to reduce your taxable income.
According to Mark Morris, senior tax counsel at CPA Australia, a police officer can potentially claim deductions for payments made to informants “where such payments are authorised by the employer police service, and the officer can prove that the cost was incurred and not reimbursed”.
And what of the personal secretary and their wardrobe? Morris says that in a landmark case the personal secretary to the wife of a state governor was allowed a deduction for the cost of additional daily changes of clothing (e.g. hats, gloves and formal wear) as this was a necessary in order for her to perform that specific job.
He also cites another strange allowable deduction. On this occasion, a flight attendant was allowed a deduction for the cost of shoes she wore on board as they had to be necessarily half a size above her normal shoe size as her feet would swell in pressurised cabin conditions.
While these are certainly unusual cases, there are many other deductions that you may be legally entitled to and that you may not be aware of.
For example deductions may also be available for certain laundry, home office, self-education and motor vehicle expenses. Bear in mind the following:
- The laundry deduction is only available in respect of laundry and dry-cleaning of protective clothing, registered non-compulsory uniforms and occupation-specific clothing.
- Home office costs are allowable where you work from home in which case you can claim a deduction at a rate of $0.26 per work hour to cover your heating, cooling and lighting costs.
- Self-education costs can also be claimed if the course directly relates to your current work and has not been done to obtain new qualifications in a different field.
- Finally motor vehicle costs are potentially allowable where you use your vehicle for work-related travel and certain conditions are met.
If you’re unsure what deductions you may be entitled to, fear not because the ATO provides rulings or factsheets listing various deductions claimable for particular professions or industries. These can be downloaded at www.ato.gov.au. Major occupations covered include, builders, carers, cleaners, electricians, engineers, hairdressers, journalists, lawyers, miners, nurses, personal trainers, security guards, teachers and travel agents.
Morris says travel agents can claim the costs of travel and accommodation, conferences, passport fees and travel insurance where those are work-related in addition to the claims normally available to employees.
“Similarly, an electrician could possibly claim deductions for sun-protection clothing, sunglasses, safety coloured vests, steel capped boots and overnight accommodation if they were incurred in the course of performing their work in addition to the usual claims potentially available,” he adds.
In all cases, advice should be sought from a registered tax agent to make sure you are able to claim all your allowable deductions.