June is here and with it comes chilly weather, the promise of school holidays on the horizon, oh—and tax time. Look, most of us would rather chew off a limb than sit down and go through the drama of sorting out our teacher tax return. While procrastinating to the point that you only have a few minutes to throw some receipts together is a common response to the EOFY, putting a little bit of effort and planning into preparing your tax return can bring big benefits to you and your wallet once the 31st of the month rolls around.
Whether you are working with an accountant or going it alone, there are a few things you can do to lessen the burden of tax time while boosting your chances of a getting a fat tax return 💸💸💸.
Let’s get into it.
Teacher tax return: know what you can claim
As a teacher, when figuring out what you can and can’t claim, there are three main considerations. These are:
- Have you spent the money yourself without compensation from your employer?
- Is the expense directly related to how you earn your income?
- Do you have a record to prove the expense?
If you answer yes to all these questions, it is likely that the expense is tax deductible.
Please note that if the expense was for both work and private purposes, you can only claim a deduction on the work-related portion e.g., if you use your home computer and printer for work 50% of the time, you can only claim for 50% of the expenses.
Since COVID-19 has had us all working from home more than usual over the past financial year, we need to consider how that has affected our work-related costs as well. Don’t forget the new camera you bought for teaching online or the percentage of internet costs you have used in order to meet the requirements of your job.
Top tax deductions for teachers
We’ve done the legwork and pulled together a list of top tax deductions for teachers to help ensure you are fully aware of all the tax rebate benefits that are available to you.
- Teaching supplies: teaching resources or materials that were not paid for or reimbursed by your employers
- Any uniforms (or clothing with the company/school logo on it) including laundry costs that you may have to wear if on block
- Work related books, magazines, newspapers, and journals
- Protective hat and sunscreen used when working outside
- Masks, sanitiser, rapid antigen tests that you purchased to attend your job
- Computer consumables (for example, printer paper and ink) and stationery
- Home office equipment, including computers, printers, phones, furniture and furnishings – you can claim either the
- full cost of items up to $300
- decline in value for items over $300.
Fees, compliance, and subscriptions
- Union or membership fees
- NESA accreditation annual renewal fees
- Teaching registration fees and related costs
- Working with children check / Blue card applications
- Cost of relevant memberships and subscriptions (Teach Starter, Twinkl, etc.)
Professional development and training costs
- Self-education that relates to your current teaching role e.g. your ClassCover Learn membership
- Accredited paid courses face to face or online that improve your capacity as a teacher e.g. Numeracy, Literacy, Sports coaching, Arts, Leadership, Science etc.
Travel (not already reimbursed)
- Some travel and meal expenses
Trips to and from work are considered a private expense and are generally not tax deductible, however, there are some exceptions. For example, car expenses may be considered a deduction if you use your personal vehicle to transport students to and from school excursions or events. You may also be able to claim a deduction for transporting bulky equipment if:
- The school you are working at requires you to transport the equipment for work to and from an event
- the equipment was essential to earning your income
- there was no secure area to store the equipment at the work location
- the equipment is too large or bulky to transport
The per kilometre car expense claim rate for 2021-22 is 72 cents per km for up to 5,000 business kms. For 2022-23 tax year the rate will be 75 cents per km. This claim method avoids the need to keep track of individual car expenses and receipts. It is essential that if you are using this method, you keep a travel logbook in your car and record all trips with odometer readings, even when they are not for work purposes. This log must be running for at least 12 weeks to be accepted as evidence.
For one off travel expense claims you may keep a travel diary and receipts for fuel, food and accommodation. If you are claiming for work related travel expenses for 6 or more nights you MUST keep a travel diary.
DoE teachers can also apply for travel expense reimbursement, within 4 weeks of travel through SAP with their Principal’s permission.
Working from home
For working from home hours up until the 30th of June 2022, you can use a shortcut method to calculate your expenses.
Using this method, you can claim 80 cents per hour for each hour you work from home. This covers all your working from home expenses including:
- Tax-deductible phone expenses
- internet expenses,
- decline in value of equipment
- furniture and electricity and gas for heating, cooling and lighting.
To use this method, you must have a record of the hours you worked from home, for example, a timesheet, roster, or diary. You cannot claim the purchase costs of anything else you may be using to work from home, as they are covered as above.
After the 30th of June 2022 it will be important to keep:
- receipts for depreciating assets or equipment you use when working from home
- records of how you calculated your work-related use of the asset AND
- your decline in value calculations.
This is because working from home expenses generated from the 1st of July 2022 cannot be claimed using the shortcut method. Learn more about claiming working from home expenses during COVID-19 from the ATO website here.
Other Work-Related Expenses
It pays to know what items may be tax deductible when it comes to preparing your tax return. If you are still unsure, have a chat with your tax agent or visit the ATO’s website if you need more clarity around what is deductible.
It is always handy to keep a thorough record of your paperwork to help ease the stress when submitting your tax return. Remember, you must keep all records including diaries, logbooks, receipts and working out used to calculate your expense claims for 5 years.
Top tip on keeping records
Unless you are one of those extreme organisers who methodically files away every single work-related expense as it’s created (or even if you are), you could make your life easier by using an app that will keep your records for you.
Apps like Receipt Saver and Recibo will also allow you to take a picture and record on the go right then and there so you can throw away the original receipt and not have to worry about the print fading or losing it.
Well, what are you waiting for? There’s no time like the present to get started on your journey to a healthy tax return and an even more organised 2022/2023.