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Five forgotten tax deductions

Hear ye! Hear ye! Hear ye! It's tax time again! Let joy be unrestrained! Break out those tax records and prepare to lodge your tax return! Oh the fun we'll all be having!

... or maybe not. It's a reasonable bet that most of us find preparing our tax records a bit of a drag but it's worth paying a bit of attention to because a bit of diligence can give your tax refund a nice little boost. Here are five tax deductions that are frequently forgotten by wage and salary earners:

Home office expenses

The COVID-19 pandemic had many employees working from home this year. If you're one of them, then there are a few deductions you can probably put your hand up for. Even if you do no more than respond to work emails on your home computer you may be able to claim a tax deduction for the cost of using your personal computer.

If you're lucky enough to work entirely from home then our friends at the ATO get considerably more generous. The "occupancy cost" of your home office becomes tax deductible, so in other words you can claim expenses like office furniture and equipment, software and even a percentage of your electricity bill and your rent or mortgage.

If that all sounds great, but a little complicated then you're probably not wrong. Make sure you do your research or ask your accountant to help.

Mobile phone

If you use your personal mobile phone for work-related calls then it pays to keep a careful record for at least three months of how much you're using it for work and how much for personal use. The ATO is not about to let you claim your entire phone bill , but you can claim the percentage of it that is work related.

Union and other memberships

If you're a union member, or a member of a professional body related to your work, then you can claim the total cost of those membership fees as a tax deduction.

Tax agent fees

Your accountant really is your best friend at tax time, making sure you get all the deductions you're entitled to and working through all that tedious paperwork for you. And you know what? The benefits don't end there because you can claim your accountant's fees for this year on next year's tax returns as the "cost of managing tax affairs" – how cool's that!

Vehicle expenses

If you use your vehicle for work-related travel, you can deduct these costs at tax time. Use a logbooking app like Drive Appy to log your work kilometers and make sure you keep your receipts just in case.

If you’re really looking to save tax, you can also novate your vehicle, which means you pay for the majority of the lease and running costs from your pre-tax salary, reducing your taxable income and saving you thousands. A novated lease (link) combines all your vehicle expenses like fuel, registration, insurance and maintenance into a single salary deduction which helps you budget and means you’ll never have to find money for new tyres again!

For running updates on Coronavirus fleet news please visit our dedicated Coronavirus Fleetcare page.

IMPORTANT NOTE - This content is current as at 13 May 2020 and provided for information purposes only. The information may not be suitable or appropriate for your organisation’s operations and needs. As such, please undertake your own independent assessment(s) and take into consideration any specific government laws and guidance. Response and advice regarding Coronavirus is changing rapidly and it is important that you keep up to date with all relevant information issued by the Australian Government.

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