Office worker and business professional tax deductions is a pretty broad topic. The term business professional covers a wide range of roles, including managers, designers, supervisors, IT staff, marketing team members and pretty much anyone else who works in an office!
With so many emails to read, calls to make and deadlines to meet, it’s easy to forget (or just flat out not have time) to keep track of your tax deductions throughout the year.
At Etax accountants, we’re here to help! We’ve put together a comprehensive list of possible tax deductions for business professionals and office workers.
Tax deductions for business professionals: most common items
Each individual is different with differing roles and responsibilities, but for office workers and business professionals there are a range of common deductions that relate to most people.
Work-related travel and car expenses
Do you travel for your profession? Whether it’s meeting clients or suppliers, travelling to sites or between offices, make sure you claim your travel related expenses! This can include public and commercial transport or the cost of using your own vehicle for work-related travel.
Keep in mind, there are a few exclusions to observe and processes you will need to follow to claim these expenses. You usually can’t include travel from home to work (or vice versa). And, to boost your claim if you’re using your own car, you should document the number of kilometres in logbook over a period of at least 12 weeks, plus keep all car related receipts (e.g fuel, services, tires etc).
Other Work-related travel tax deductions for office workers can include:
- Bus fares
- Train fares
- Taxi fares
- Hire car expenses
- Plane flights
- Private car use (read our blog on car expenses for full details on how and what to claim)
- Bridge and road tolls
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Example #1 IT professionals:
Alice is an IT professional who provides IT support for multiple retail stores as well as at her employer’s head office. Usually she uses a company car to make these trips, however it’s not always available. In these situations, Alice uses her own private vehicle and keeps a vehicle logbook for a typical 12 continuous weeks.
By keeping the logbook and all of her car related receipts, Alice can claim the cost of driving her vehicle between jobs. Keep in mind that Alice cannot claim the cost of her drive to work from home or from work to home.
For more information on log book keeping, read our post here.
Work-related tools and equipment
Have you bought tools or equipment, like a tablet or a laptop bag, for your job? Perhaps you’ve purchased a license for some software, or stock images to use in the company newsletter? How about that notebook set you bought for jotting down your to-do list? Don’t miss out on these valuable tax deductions on your tax return.
Tax-deductible work-related tools and equipment for business professionals include:
- Purchase or leasing costs of laptops and tablets
- Computer accessories such as USBs, cables and headphones
- Stationery, including diaries and notebooks
- Software and stock license fees
- Work-related personal phone expenses
- Protective items
- Repair costs for work-related tools and equipment
- Insurance premiums for work equipment
Example #2 Law professionals:
Emily is a Lawyer who often carries her work laptop and court documents between her office and the Courthouse. She purchases a laptop bag suitable for carrying both which she only uses at work. There is a clear connection between the bag and Emily’s work activities. Therefore, Emily can claim the cost of the laptop bag as a tax deduction.
Self-education tax deductions for business professionals
As a professional, chances are you have some specialised knowledge within your field of work. But did you know that you can usually claim the cost of keeping your knowledge up to date on your tax return?
Whether it be attending conferences or facilitated learning, professional development is essential to stay ahead in your career. You can claim self-education and development expenses if you undertake job-related training or are required to attend networking events.
These deductions can include:
Conferences and some Networking Events
Conferences and networking events are a good chance to get out of your daily routine. They’re also a handy tax deduction for business professionals They can be an opportunity to explore new ideas from the experts in your industry and network with your peers. If you are required to attend conferences or similar events make sure you claim these costs on your tax return.
Who doesn’t love a bit of new tech? Especially if it automates or simplifies a tedious part of your job! If you’ve had to attend training courses for new technology or software (that is required in your current position), you can enjoy benefits and claim the cost at tax time too!
Workshops and Courses
Personal career development in the form of facilitated learning is common for most professionals. These courses can help keep your existing skills or develop areas you want to improve. Most of the out of pocket expenses for these types of courses can be claimed if they relate to your current work and you are not reimbursed by your employer.
Common self-education expenses:
- The fees for short courses or university courses directly related to your work.
- Course related expenses including:
- Phone calls
- Travel costs
- Accommodation and meals (if the course requires an overnight stay)
- Tools and equipment required to undertake the course
- Books and training manuals
Example #3 Marketing Professionals
Joan works in the marketing department for a not-for-profit organisation and often writes press releases to promote local fundraisers. Joan’s plan for personal development includes taking a class to improve her writing ability. She finds a course nearby and enrols for multiple sessions during the work day (with approval from her manager). Joan plans to travel to the course by Uber to make sure she gets there on time.
What costs can Joan claim?
Joan can claim the course fees as well as the Uber fares to the course from the office.
If you plan to claim self-education expenses on your tax return, the training must be directly related to your current job. (For example, you can’t claim a fashion design course if you work in IT right now!).
Check out this post for much more information on claiming self-education expenses.
Home office running expenses
Are your required to work at home after hours, or do you occasionally work at home during the day – perhaps as part of a work from home agreement or during school holidays? If you do, then you may be able to claim home office expenses.
If you have a room or area of your house (that is not being used by other people) set aside for this work, you can claim the running expenses for this part of your home, along with equipment costs.
You can claim the additional running expenses of your home office in two ways:
- The amount of actual running expenses incurred by recording an established pattern of use (known as the actual cost method).
- Or at a rate of 52 cents per hour (fixed rate method).
Be careful – don’t claim home office costs if, for example, you just check your emails in the evening out of habit. This tax deduction is for people who are required to work from home sometimes. If you’re not honest about this one, it can get very uncomfortable with the ATO. Read more about claiming home office expenses here.
Example #4 Designers:
Kate is a graphic designer who works at an advertising agency producing designs for a range of clients. As part of her contract she is entitled to work from home one day each week. Kate uses her personal mobile to call clients and her computer which is set up in her home office. Kate also logs into the Adobe Creative Cloud software suite via the supplied company login details.
So what can Kate claim?
Kate can claim the apportioned actual running costs, such as electricity, by calculating how big her office is (as a percentage of her total house) or at standard rate of 52 cents an hour.
Like most people, Kate uses the standard rate and calculates that she works at home for 8 hours a week (.52×8=$4.16) for 48 weeks of the year, that’s $199.68 Kate can claim back on tax!
Kate can also claim her mobile expenses. This can be calculated by looking at her phone bill and working out what percentage of total calls for the month are work related. If Kate makes 60 phone calls during the month, and 24 of them were for work, then 40% of her phone calls were work-related. That means that she can claim 40% of her monthly phone bill each month of the year.
So, if her monthly phone bill was $50, she can claim $20 per month multiplied by 12 months. That’s a total of $240 of work related mobile phone expenses on her tax return.
Software subscriptions, such as the Adobe Creative Cloud that Kate uses, can also be claimed in some circumstances. However, in Kate’s case she’s using a subscription that is already paid for by her employer. Therefore, she can’t claim the cost of the subscription as she has no out of pocket expense.
Other common tax deductions for professionals
- Union and professional association fees
- Charity donations
- Subscriptions to job related journals and magazines
- Income protection premiums paid outside of Super
- Tax agent fees for preparing your prior year’s tax return