As accountants, we’ve worked with all types of clients and have seen many different tax claims, including some unusual one thrown in the mix.
Some of our clients come in with their books in order and others require assistance with bookkeeping. Among each of our clients, we find varied methods of keeping records for tax claims. But three things are certain. Each claim must be directly related to work, the individual must not have been reimbursed and a record of purchase must be available.
We often find very different tax claims presented to us, so we thought we’d put together a collection of ten of the most unusual things you can claim on tax. While some tax claims are completely illegitimate, there are some very legitimate and very unusual things you can claim on tax as well. Dependent on your industry, working structure and your overall profession, you could be making use of these unusual tax deductions each and every year.
Along with the modern world, comes a whole lot of stress. And what better way to alleviate it than with a good old fashioned game of ping pong. If that’s not your style, how about a game of pool? Modern day business owners know that their staff rooms require more than a bar fridge and an old microwave that always gets skipped on the cleaning roster. While these deduction don’t translate to all businesses, those used for staff purposes and during team building exercises frequently are abled to be claimed as tax deductions. As stated by Second Commissioner, Neil Oleson, “If a small business were to buy some facilities that were permanently located in their business premises exclusively for the use of their employees whilst in the workplace then table tennis would qualify.”
As for TVs, those used in reception areas for customers or clients to make use of and those used for video conferencing in meeting rooms are able to be claimed on tax too.
Do you work outdoors, under a blistering hot sun day in and day out? Then you’ll be eligible to claim sunscreen, hats and sunglasses as part of your tax return. If other protective items such as gloves and waterproof clothing are required (because that pesky rain isn’t much fun either), these items are acceptable claims as well. For example, as a farmer or tradesperson, if your job requires that you work outdoors for long periods of time, any money spent on items to protect you from the natural elements are completely tax deductible.
Claiming beauty products as part of your tax return does sound unusual, however certain industries have the ability to do so completely legitimately. Specifically, flight attendants are eligible to claim hydrating moisturisers and hair conditioners due to their regular exposure to highly drying environments onboard flights. As this environmental factor is completely out of a flight attendant’s control, flight attendants are completely eligible for these tax claims.
On the other hand, performers who are required to wear costume makeup, (for example a circus performer), can claim the costs of the makeup used, as well as any makeup remover needed to return to their everyday look. If Bozo the clown chose to live his life looking like a clown each and everyday, these claims would not be acceptable. But this is pretty far fetched, or is it?
Basically, any course, workshop or program designed to enhance your income earning or knowledge and skills in your current field is tax deductible. This means that if you’re engaging in an educational program related to your current job, such as a web development workshop for an IT company, all associated expenses are also deductible. Text books, travel and any specific clothing, such as steel capped boots for a construction program are completely reasonable to claim as part of your tax deduction. However, this only applies to your current position in the work force and doesn’t cover your dreams of studying and becoming an expert in a new field.
Here come the fun police. No, an unusual thing for you to claim on tax is not your newest Gucci bag. You are, however, able to claim a handbag, briefcase, satchel or backpack used specifically for work purposes, such as carrying an iPad, stationary equipment, your work phone or a laptop. And if you’re claiming your handbag as a work expense, then it might be a good idea to keep a logbook to prove that there were more than just your personal belongings inside of it. As simplified by ATO’s Assistant Commissioner, Graham Whyte, 'you can claim a deduction for assets that are predominantly used for work purposes, such as bags and satchels used to carry work papers or electronic devices, to the extent that such items are used for work purposes.'
Similarly, luggage falls under these guidelines as well. As long as you can prove that your suitcase or bag was used exclusively for work and the transportation of work materials or equipment, then this can be added to the claimable list too. Of course, pilots and flight attendants are eligible here as well. Is anyone else thinking of becoming a flight attendant with all these perks?
Is your business one that requires an injection of ambiance? If you require a certain feel or particular decor for your business, it may sound unusual, but you could be eligible to claim your business’s artwork. Public facing areas such as offices, hotels, restaurants and bars all require a certain feel. So why not add artwork to your list of claimables?
Say you’re a fly in, fly out worker and you have specific dietary requirements. These could be anything from an intolerance to gluten, dairy or nuts - the list goes on. While meals are usually provided to you by your worksite, in this instance, it is important that they are catering for your needs. If the food provided on your worksite is not being prepared correctly or providing you with satisfactory options, you have every right to purchase your own food. In this case, any food you purchase while at your FIFO job is able to be claimed on tax if your worksite is not catering to dietary needs.
Do you have a large amount of work tools that you have to store at your home? Chances are these tools can amount to being quite expensive. If this is the case, you’ll need some form of security to protect this equipment. So if you own a rottweiler, doberman or other type of protective dog used for the purposes of work equipment security, you are able to claim all of the dog’s maintenance (food) and vet bills. Check out the ATO to see if you’re eligible for a Private Binding Ruling to claim your canine. Similarly, if you have a dog who assists with herding livestock on your farm, this little guy is tax deductible too - as long as he is of the appropriate breed. Here’s one worth a chuckle. If you’re a magician, pulling rabbits out of hats and the rabbits are purely for work purposes, you can claim your fluffy friend, as well as any carrots he chomps on.
Stilettos, no. Thongs, no. But steel capped boots required on a construction site to provide an extra degree of protection from the elements? One hundred per cent. Although general footwear can’t be claimed on tax, this goes for workers requiring covered in shoes, anything specifically required to your profession is completely claimable. Work boots worn by tradesperson are a perfect example.
If you’re required to transport your work tools home each day due to the absence of a secured storage areas at your workplace, then travel between your workplace and home can be claimed as part of your tax return. This is applicable for tradespeople, mechanics, construction workers, cleaners and any other profession requiring the transport of bulky work tools.
Did you find any of these ten unusual tax claims useful? Perhaps you’re not sure about how to keep records for some of your claims. Give DCG Accounting a call and have your tax records up to speed in no time.