You take care of a lot of people in need, but don’t forget that self-care is as important. So grab a cup of coffee, perhaps a Tim Tam or two and set aside 2 minutes to read this blog, because were about to unveil tax deductions you can make as a community support worker you could be mission out on.
The average tax return in Australia is $2,800, so if you’re not getting anywhere near that hack at tax time, it may pay to read on.
The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is very strict about what can and can’t be claimed as car expenses. Generally, the trip from your home to your place of work can’t be claimed because they regard that travel as private even if you work outside of normal business hours, but there are claim to be made if you know how.
You may be able to claim the costs of your trips between home and work if your place of work shifts. For example, you have no permanent place of work and if you need to continually shift from one place to the other during your workday.
You can claim the cost of your car trip if you drive directly between separate jobs on the same day, for example if you work as a personal care assistant to your other jobs as a disability support worker, or if you drive to and from an alternate workplace for the same employer on the same day – for example, directly between clients’ homes or taking a client to an appointment.
There are two ways to claim your car expenses:
- Log book method – keep a valid logbook for a consecutive 12-week period and written evidence of your car expenses
- Cents per kilometre method – you can claim reimbursement for 72 cents per km for the 2020–2021 and 2021–2022 tax years up to a maximum of 5000kms.
Pro Tax Tip: You can only claim the work-related part of your car expenses. You can claim petrol, oil, repairs and maintenance, road tolls, parking, insurance as a part of your car expenses if using the log book method.
When you keep your log book, you’ll need to carefully note your odometer reading, kilometres travelled for work, date and reason for your trip. You’ll need to keep a log book for 12 consecutive weeks and only need to keep one for each five year period. Note: Don’t forget to note your odometer reading at the start and end of each financial year even if your logbook is within that 5 year period, otherwise your logbook will be null and void.
Clothing and Footwear
You may have to wear a uniform so that people can identify you as working for your company. You can claim the costs of any uniforms you’ve had to buy which have a company logo, as well as any protective clothing or footwear you’ve needed to purchase. This includes items such as steel-capped boots, non-slip nursing shoes and protective eye-wear.
Pro Tax Tip: If you’ve been reimbursed for any clothing costs you’ve incurred by your employer, you can’t claim these expenses.
If you have to wash your work uniforms, you can claim $1 per load if the load contains only work clothing, or 50 cents per load if you’re washing a mix of work and private clothing. Don’t forget to keep a wash diary to back up your claims.
Meals and Entertainment
A part of your job may be to take clients out to the shopping centre, or to watch a movie. You can claim the cost of a meal you buy and eat when you work overtime only if you receive an overtime meal allowance under an industrial law, award or agreement and it’s included in your assessable income. If you’ve paid out for a meal or coffee during normal working hours, even if you take a client out, you can’t claim the cost even if you receive an allowance. It’s still deemed a private expense.
As a community support worker, you’ll know you need to keep current with skills training and licenses for your job. You can claim these costs if it directly related to your current job provided it maintains or improves your specific skills you need for your current duties – for example, a Certificate IV in Ageing Support if you are employed as an aged care worker, or is likely to result in an increase of income from your current employment.
If your study is only general or for employment you have not acquired yet, for example you’re studying to be a nurse, then you can’t claim these costs as a tax deduction.
You’re entitled to claim other miscellaneous tax deductions, such as:
- Phone and internet costs
- Working from home expenses
- Personal protective equipment such as gloves, face masks, hand sanitiser, anti-bacterial spray
- Union and professional association fees
- The costs of managing your tax affairs
Pro Tax Tip: You can’t claim the cost of flu shots or other vaccinations, or paying fees at your place of work.
You can only claim work-related costs you’ve already incurred and are out of pocket for and you have to be able to back up your claims. There’s no use missing tax deductions because you’ve forgotten to keep the correct paperwork.
ITP Tax Accountants help over 300,000 Australian individuals lodge their tax returns every year as well as make every single valid tax deduction – even ones you may never have thought of. Tax agent fees are 100% claimable, so what are you waiting for? Book your appointment and find out how you can save money on your tax today. Don’t pay more than you have to.