Re­fund’s in the bag for work de­duc­tions

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - AN­THONY KEANE

SOME of the big­gest tax de­duc­tions avail­able to work­ers to­day did not ex­ist just 10 years ago.

A surge in tech­nol­ogy and peo­ple bring­ing work home is al­low­ing mil­lions of Aus­tralians to claim de­duc­tions for their work- re­lated use of smart­phones, tablet com­put­ers and the things used to carry those items – hand­bags, man­bags and satchels.

The ATO last year clar­i­fied that hand­bags could be tax- de­ductible if used for car­ry­ing doc­u­ments, phones and tablet com­put­ers to the of­fice, sim­i­lar to how brief­cases have been de­ductible for decades.

Kate Bruce, 31, is cur­rently search­ing for a handbag that can carry her work ma­te­ri­als.

“Of course, I’d need to fig­ure out how much I use it for work and how much would be for per­sonal use,” said Ms Bruce, an ac­coun­tant at dmca ad­vi­sory.

“I think at tax time peo­ple need to be care­ful to en­sure that they can dis­tin­guish be­tween a fash­ion handbag pur­chased just be­cause you like it and one pur­chased only for work.”

You can only claim for the workre­lated pro­por­tion of use of any item, and may need a log­book or other record of use.

NDA Law man­ag­ing di­rec­tor An­drea Michaels said you could not claim a small evening bag or one that wouldn’t fit your work items.

“The cost of the bag it­self is not rel­e­vant, but the more ex­pen­sive the bag, the more likely the ATO will ques­tion it, so your abil­ity to sub­stan­ti­ate your claim is im­por­tant,” she said. “Tech­nol­ogy has fu­elled a raft of new tax de­duc­tions in the last 10 years.”

As well as claim­ing for phones and com­put­ers, work­ers could po­ten­tially claim de­duc­tions for phone plans, in­ter­net ser­vices, apps and cloud stor­age, Ms Michaels said.

“Other new work de­duc­tions in­clude busi­ness card scan­ning apps and the use of on­line web­site hosts,” she said.

H & R Block’s di­rec­tor of tax com­mu­ni­ca­tions, Mark Chap­man, said work- re­lated items cost­ing less than $ 300 could be claimed fully in the year they were bought.

“If it’s more than $ 300, you will need to de­pre­ci­ate it ( over sev­eral years),” he said.

How­ever, there was no limit on the num­ber of work- re­lated items that could be bought and writ­ten off, Mr Chap­man said. WORK, NOT PLEA­SURE: Ac­coun­tant Kate Bruce with a handbag that can be tax- de­ductible when used for work.

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