When I retired from my professional sporting career, I was able to spend more time in my side-hustle which I built into a small business, “Elite Cakes Co”. Alongside that, I indulged my other passion to work as a paramedic.
The hours I work now-a-days may be hectic, but they are also extremely rewarding. It pays to be mindful of the expenses that you may incur, and also what can be claimed back at tax time. After all, why pay more tax than you have to.
Most deductions come from out-of-pocket expenses that you may have incurred as a part of doing your job, but many of these are overlooked at tax time. If you haven’t been reimbursed for your expense, it pays to know what and how you can claim and get some money back into your pocket.
There are certain rules governing your tax deductions. You can only claim the business portion of your expense and it must relate directly to your job. If you have a private and business portion, you’ll only be able to claim the business portion. Itemising your expenses goes a long way to working out what portion can be claimed.
In order to claim a tax deduction, you must already be out of pocket. You can’t claim what you haven’t spent, and you must be able to prove your expense. So keep all your receipts! Don’t forget, you’ll need to keep your receipts for five years. If you don’t want to keep the original, you can scan them or take a photograph. As long as they are a clear and true representation of the original, the ATO (Australian Taxation Office) will accept your electronic copy. The trick to claiming all tax deductions is knowing the valid claims you can make. Below is a list of what you can claim, however to be sure it’s best to seek the help of a professional simply because everyone’s expenses are individual.
You can claim a distinctive uniform that you’ve had to wear for your job if you’ve paid the cost out of your own pocket and not been reimbursed by your employer. The clothing item can’t be general in nature, even if you do need to wear it to work, such as a white blouse or black pants. Items such as those are considered to be private.
Items that can be claimed include: Specialised boots, non-slip shoes, high-vis vests, safety gloves, protective clothing, belts and attachments and red code shirts. Any garment that identifies you as a Paramedic can be claimed. You can claim sunglasses and sunscreen if you need to be outside for prolonged periods.
You’ll also be able to claim the cost of laundering your uniform. For washing, drying and ironing you do yourself, the ATO will allow you to claim $1 per load if the laundry load is only work-related clothing. If you wash everything together, you can claim 50c per load. If you’ve taken your uniform to a dry-cleaners, don’t forgot to keep your receipt to prove your claim. Repairs to your uniforms are also claimable.
You may have worked overtime, or across multiple shifts. You can claim the cost of a meal if you’ve bought and eaten when you work overtime if you receive an overtime meal allowance under an industrial law award or agreement.
You won’t be able to claim the cost of food, drinks or snack you consumed during a normal working hours in the day even if you do have an allowance to cover the meal expense, as they are considered private expenses.
You’ll need to keep up to date with the latest techniques to do your job. The cost of travelling to and from conferences, seminars, meetings and training courses not held at your workplace can be claimed, as can parking, tolls, taxis and public transport costs you’ve incurred.
If you’ve had to travel between 2 or more workplaces, you can claim the travel costs. In these instances, you’ll need to keep a vehicle log book and log your trips, kilometres travelled and the reason for your travel. Keep any receipts of expenses you may have incurred. If your travel is regular, you’ll be able to keep a log book for 12 consecutive weeks and average out your expenses throughout the year. You’ll be able to claim the costs using the log-book method or the kilometres travelled method.
If this type of travel will not exceed 5,000kms per year then a diary record of the kms travelled will be sufficient to claim under the set rate per km method for your vehicle which gives you a claim currently of 72 cents per km.
Travel to and from home to your workplace cannot be claimed.
Training and Self Education
It pays to keep your skills current. The course or training program you undertake must relate directly to your job. Travel and any incidental you may have to pay, such as stationery, laptop, phone and internet costs, travel, parking and tolls are also valid tax deductions. Courses such as OH&S, wound-care, treatment updates, rescue, rapid response courses and conferences can be claimed. Self-education classes run by a university or TAFE for example a Diploma in Paramedic Science can be claimed if it directly relates to your job.
If you’ve had to stay away overnight at or near the course location, you’ll be able to claim the accommodation and meal expenses.
The costs of renewing your annual practising certificate and any licenses you need and hold can be claimed, as can the costs of journals, periodicals and magazines with content related to your job. Unions and professional associations and subscriptions to professional organisations can also be claimed.
Paramedics can deduct tools and supplies that are required to do their job. Items include maps, protective equipment, flashlights, phones and gear bags. You’ll be able to claim medical supplies such as stethoscopes, blood pressure cuffs, first aid kits, trauma packs, pen lights, pin watch and shears.
Generally, a gym membership cannot be claimed, however in limited circumstances they can if you need to maintain an above average fitness level. Strenuous jobs such as paramedics who work in specialist rescue operations, such as vertical access (cliff and building), white water survival or snowfield work and are regularly tested for fitness can claim their fitness expenses.
There are a range of other expenses that can be claimed, such as home office costs: phone, internet, printers and stationery. The hours worked from home can be claimed through maintaining a diary of the hours worked for a representative 4 week period.
Donations, bank fees, income protection, tax agent fees and the cost of travelling to your tax appointments are claimable. ITP Accounting Professionals have helped Australian businesses and individuals with their tax affairs for over 50 years. If you want to maximise your tax refund, phone 1800 367 487 and chat with a friendly tax accountant today.