“I’m a teacher. What tax deductions will the ATO allow?”
Like many professionals, teachers often pay for work related expenses out of their own pockets. In most cases, these items can become valuable tax deductions for teachers. As a teacher, the tax deductions you claim back significantly improve your tax refund – if you know what you’re doing. You just need to adopt a few good habits – we cover some of those below. But let’s start with the top 13 teacher tax deductions:
The top 13 tax deductions for teachers:
Expenses that you may be able to claim, include:
- Teaching supplies: teaching resources or materials that were not paid for or reimbursed by your school
- Teaching registration fees and related costs
- Working with children/Blue card applications
- Uniforms (or clothing with the company/school logo on it) including laundry costs
- Self-education that relates to your current teaching role
- Some travel and meal expenses
- Any relevant overnight stay costs
- Relevant car expenses
- Union or membership fees
- Home internet bill (for the times you may work from home on marking, etc.)
- Cost of relevant memberships
- Work related books, magazines and journals
- Tax-deductible phone expenses
- Protective hat and sunscreen used when working outside
Some teachers can claim tax deductions for working at home
Most teachers need to take work home at some stage but there is a silver lining to that. If you do some of your work at home, there’s an opportunity to claim a deduction for it. Depending on how often you work at home, you may be able to claim the work percentage costs of:
- your internet expenses
- computers, printers and any other equipment you use
- depreciation of the value of the above items (ask Etax or another tax agent to help with this!)
The ATO’s “cents per hour method” is the best way to claim tax deductions for work-at-home expenses. Etax.com.au or another tax agent can quickly calculate the work related portion of these expenses and help you to claim these expenses correctly.
Can teachers claim a portion of rent, rates and bills as a tax deduction?
You can only claim these expenses if you always work from home. Teachers, who mostly work out of schools and other educational facilities are not eligible. Teachers should be very careful about this, the ATO has made clear rulings about this and now watch out for teachers who attempt to over-claim.
Travel and school excursions: common tax deductions for teachers
Travel and other costs for day trips or school excursions are often a common expense for teachers. Make sure you keep a record of all of them. This includes costs such as meals, transport and accommodation – unless paid for or reimbursed by the school. It’s worth noting that you can’t claim travel to and from work or any social functions the school may host.
You may also be able to claim a deduction for some personal items if you use them for work. For example: a portion of your mobile phone expenses and the costs of work related personal car use can be claimed.
Simple, steady habits really pay off:
Track your teaching expenses and save your receipts = more tax deductions for teachers!
In 2011 the ATO scrutinised a large number of teacher tax returns. They searched for incorrect or exaggerated deduction claims and disallowed deductions for those the teachers could not provide suitable proof of purchase for. Those teachers attempting to claim deductions thought to be “outside of average ranges” faced more detailed ATO reviews. For many teachers this scrutiny brought unexpected tax assessments, with some required to pay money to the ATO. This serves as a good lesson to us all, because it will happen again.
The take-away lesson from that event:
Stay on top of your record keeping, year-round. Keep it simple and keep your records organised. If you don’t keep your receipts, it is likely that items that you could have claimed as teacher tax deductions will not be claimed. And if you don’t have a receipt to prove a teaching-related expense, don’t claim the expense. That might sound a bit harsh, but the solution is easy: Put all of your work-related receipts in a folder for your tax agent at the end of the financial year.
Another way to save tax receipts is with your smartphone. Using a simple mobile app like the one from Etax Accountants, you can snap your receipts year-round and save them directly into your next tax return. Later, at tax time, your tax return will be easy to finish online and an Etax accountant will check the details before your tax return is lodged with the ATO. So easy to do, you’ll never miss another cash-saving tax deduction.
Need more advice? We have a team ready to answer your questions and get your tax return lodged the right way, so just get in touch!
The handy infographic below might help you remember tax-deductible items. Never throw away a receipt for anything on these lists! Please feel free to share this with your friends.