Do you work as a security guard? This guide will help you to work out what income and allowances you’ll need to report on your tax return, what claims you are eligible to make and the records you’ll need to keep. It’s easy to miss out on tax deductions and accidentally give more to the ATO than you need to if you don’t know what you’re entitled to claim.
First up, you’ll need to make sure you have your income statement from your employer. If you have more than one employer, make sure you have an income statement from all of them before you lodge your tax return. Your income statement will show all your wages or salary that you’ve earned, what tax you’ve already paid and all of your allowances for the financial year. You won’t need to include any reimbursements you may have been paid by your employer. Your tax agent can access all of your income statements when they help you lodge your tax return.
Pro Tax Tip: Reimbursements are amounts paid to you by your employer for expenses you might have incurred as a part of doing your job. Reimbursements are not income and you can’t claim a deduction for them.
Include All Of Your Income
You’ll need to include all of your income on your tax return. This may come from your salary or wages paid into your bank account, or cash in hand no matter if your job is full time, part time or casual.
Pro Tax Tip: You may have an income stream that is not paid to you from your job. This may be from bank interest, government payments, foreign income, from shares, insurance pay outs or reportable fringe benefits you may have received.
As a security guard, you may have received an allowance for meals or for travel you may have had to do. You may also receive an allowance for work that might be unpleasant, special or dangerous, for gaining a first aid certificate or other qualifications, or to compensate for broken shifts.
What Tax Deductions Can You Claim?
To be eligible to claim a deduction, you’ll already have incurred the expense, the expense must relate directly to your income and you must have the records to prove your expense.
Pro Tax Tip: If a claim is both business and private in nature, you’ll only be able to claim the business portion. Simply round out your expenses proportionately to calculate your business percentage use.
Did you purchase and consume a meal during overtime hours? You’ll be able to claim the cost of the meal if your employer paid you an overtime meal allowance under an industrial law, award or agreement for the overtime, however you won’t be able to claim the cost of a meal eaten during your normal work day, even if you did receive a meal allowance.
Clothing And Laundry
If you’ve bought, hired or mended a clearly defined uniform that is distinctive to your job and not been reimbursed for the expense, you’ll be able to claim. This includes protective clothing that your employer wants you to wear such as a high-vis vest or bullet-proof vest.
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.
You may have to upgrade your skills or keep up with the latest licenses in order to do your job, such as first aid or a self-defence course. The expenses of work-related short courses, which as weapons training, negotiation, OH&S may also be claimed as long as it directly relates to your job. You’ll even be able to claim travel expenses to and from the course, course materials, accommodation and meal expenses you have incurred as a part of doing the course if you need to stay overnight.
If you need to renew fees for a license or ticket required to do your job, you can claim the expense. The cost of obtaining your original license however is a personal expense, even if it’s a requirement of your job. You also will not be able to claim your driver’s license, even if it is a requirement of employment.
You can claim union fess, fess for professional associations and work-related journals required for your job.
If you’ve driven your own car from your workplace to a job location you can claim your car expenses. Generally, you won’t be able to claim the cost of travel between your home and your workplace even if you live a long distance away or work on shift on or call. If you drive between jobs during the day, for example from a warehouse to a nightclub, you can claim these car expenses.
Pro Tax Tip: Keep a logbook for 12 consecutive weeks in order to claim your car expenses. You can claim using the actual cost method, cents per kilometre method or log-book method. If you use the cents per kilometre method, you’ll need to provide a calculation of your work-related kilometres and be able to show that your travel was work-related. (link to blog detailing car expenses)
Unless it’s a requirement to provide your own guard dog when undertaking your employment, ‘Killer’ will be a private expense. If you are required to provide a guard dog, have purchased a suitable breed of dog, trained it appropriately to be a guard dog and don’t treat the dog as a family pet, you can claim expenses such as food, vet and registrations.
Pro Tax Tip: If you have bought a dog for the sole purpose of it being used as a guard dog for employment purposes, you can claim the cost of buying the dog as a capital expense.
Phone and Internet
If you’ve used your phone or work from a home office, you’ll be able to claim the business portion of your expenses. If you’ve had to purchase tools and equipment in order to perform your job, you will be able to claim these expenses. You’ll need to keep track of your calls through a diary or log book. (link to home office expenses)
Pro Tax Tip: You can claim the cost of insuring your work tools and equipment.
Remember to keep all of your records for up to five years after you’ve lodged your tax return. The ATO can ask to see proof of your tax deductions up until that time.
Don’t Give Your Money Away
You can claim the cost of a tax agent or tax accountant as a tax deduction, as well as travel to and from your appointment. If you don’t know all of your valid claims, you may very well be missing out on hundreds of not thousands of dollars by trying to lodge your own tax return. ITP The Income Tax Professionals have helped Australian Individuals and Businesses for 50 years with their tax affairs. Have questions? Phone 1800 367 487 and chat with a friendly experienced consultants, or find your local branch online.