People across different industries may have different items for work that they can claim a deduction on their tax returns for, but this season may see a few common occurrences across individual tax returns for 2022.
On your individual tax return this year, you may notice a few expenses pertaining to COVID-19-related purchases, such as masks, hand sanitisers and RATs tests that you may be able to claim (depending on your circumstances). These deductions may have specific conditions and requirements that must be met, and failure to comply may result in the Australian Taxation Office disallowing these claims.
Masks and hand sanitiser are claimable deductions for those who have required them to work in their industry (e.g. retail, hospitality, education). This is because they can be claimed as PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), but they must be directly connected to how you earn your income (for example, many State governments mandated at various points last year that hospitality workers were required to wear masks while working). If your place of employment did not provide this PPE to you, and you had to purchase it yourself, it may be claimable.
Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) however, must be purchased for a work-related purpose. There have been plans to specifically allow deductions for Covid-19 tests such as RATs by the Government to be claimed on individual tax returns.
This legislation is scheduled to be introduced on 1st July to specifically address this, but a COVID-19 RAT test can still be claimable if it is for a work-related purpose. This is the critical point to understand. It is a claimable deduction in this instance because it has been purchased for a work-related reason, or to be able to attend your place of work.
When claiming a deduction, it is important that you keep accurate records (such as receipts) to provide evidence of your purchase, and that these purchases weren’t reimbursed by your employer. If they were reimbursed, you will not be able to claim it back.
If you were working from home during 2021, you may be able to claim back some of the expenses related to this. One of the ways that you may be able to do so is through the ‘shortcut method’. This method allows you to claim 80 cents per hour for each hour worked from home (from 01 March 2020 to 30 June 2022). Importantly though, this includes everything – you don’t need to make other claims for work from home items such as phone, internet, stationery or furniture/equipment depreciation separately.
Depending on your circumstances, choosing the wrong method means you could cheat yourself out of big dollars on your tax return. Discuss your situation with your trusted tax agent so that you can understand what exactly is required from you in the lead up to tax return time.