Work from home expenses under scrutiny

If you worked from home during lockdown and spent money on work related items that were not reimbursed by your business, you might be able to claim some of these expenses as a deduction – but not everything you purchase can be claimed.

The ATO has stated that it is looking very closely at work related deductions that are being claimed. If you are claiming your expenses, there are three methods you can use:

  • An 80 cents per hour short-cut method (you will need to have evidence of hours worked like a timesheet or diary)
  • The 52 cents per hour method (which excludes phone, internet, or the decline in value of equipment which are all claimed separately), or
  • The actual expenses method.

The ATO has highlighted four ineligible expenses that are being claimed:

  • Personal expenses such as coffee, tea and toilet paper
  • Expenses related to a child’s education, such as online learning courses or laptops
  • Claiming large expenses up-front (instead of claiming depreciation for assets), and
  • Occupancy expenses such as rent, mortgage interest, property insurance, and land taxes and rates, that cannot generally be claimed by employees working from home.

A recent case before the AAT shows how determined the ATO is to crackdown on work related deductions being claimed where there is not a satisfactory nexus between the expense being claimed and the taxpayer’s work. In this case, the taxpayer had claimed car and clothing expenses, and home internet and mobile phone costs. The ATO conceded the car costs but on a reduced deduction. When it came to clothing expenses the ATO conceded that a deduction could be claimed for gloves and a beanie on the basis that the taxpayer worked in cold conditions and that these were protective clothing needed for the job. However, the AAT refused to allow a deduction for the cost of a pair of socks on the basis that they were not protective in nature in their own right – yes, it really does get this detailed.

The taxpayer had also claimed 100% of his home internet expenses but the ATO reviewed this claim and reduced the deductible amount to $50 – a record of the family’s home internet usage demonstrated the internet was used to browse Facebook amongst other non-work related sites.

One of the other issues to come out of this case was the importance of record keeping. If you are going to claim work related expenses, then ensure you have the records to prove your claim.

Not sure what you can and can’t claim? Please contact us for advice.

Get Every Possible Deduction This Tax Year

As tax time approaches, make sure you’re ready to claim all the deductions you’re entitled to. These include the following:

Travel. If you use your own car for work related duties, you may be able to claim a deduction for related expenses. There are two ways to calculate these deductions; using a logbook or the cents per kilometre method. Either way, make sure you are tracking all of your travel throughout the year to make it simpler at tax time. In most circumstances, you can’t claim the trip to and from work.

Clothing, laundry and dry cleaning.  You can claim on the cost of purchasing and cleaning uniforms and other work related clothing. It needs to be clothing specific to your work (such as safety clothing or a shirt with a logo on it) and not just general black pants or a white shirt that matches a work dress code.

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