It's that time of year again! The financial year is nearly over, and it’s time to collect your receipts and lodge your tax return.
To help you understand what tax deductions you may be able to claim on your personal tax return, we’re sharing some of JSA Accounting’s top tax tips for educators. JSA Accounting and Edcom Taxation Services is a local Adelaide firm with offices at Reynella and Hindmarsh.
If you claim car expenses using the cents per kilometre method, you don’t always need written evidence such as receipts or a logbook. Usually you can just multiply the business kilometres you travelled by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) rates and you should be good to go.
Also, the ATO has increased their cents per km rate this year – so you’ll now get 78 cents per kilometre.
Other travel expenses
You can claim relevant public transport fees, taxi costs and airfares but make sure you keep your receipts.
Home to work travel is only claimable in limited circumstances such as if you’re carrying bulky or heavy items to school (i.e. musical instruments, woodwork tools).
Home Ofﬁce Expenses
Most teachers work from home to ﬁnish marking, plan lessons and write reports. This means you’re able to claim the cost of electricity, gas and furniture. You can do this either by claiming a percentage of actual costs or by using the revised ﬁxed rate method.
You just need to have:
- a record of the number of actual hours you work from home during the entire income year – for example, a timesheet, roster, diary or other similar document
- at least one record for each of the additional running expenses you incur that the rate per work hour includes – for example, if you incurred electricity and stationery expenses keep one quarterly bill for your electricity expenses and one receipt for your stationery expenses
- record for depreciation asset
If you haven't been keeping a record of the actual hours you worked from home, for the 2022–23 income year only, you must be able to provide both:
- a representative record of the total number of hours worked from home during the period from 1 July 2022 to 28 February 2023 – for example, any kind of record of the hours you worked from home for a particular period that you can apply to the whole 8 month period.
- a record of the total number of actual hours worked from home for the period 1 March 2023 to 30 June 2023.
- Record for depreciation asset
Claiming a deduction
Top deductions teachers should be claiming
- Teacher registration - claimable every three years
- Union fees
- Travel and car costs
- Home office expenses
- Classroom supplies and teaching aids including art materials, stickers, prizes etc
- Textbooks (used as a resource)
- Self-education costs
- Conference, seminar or workshop fees
- Memberships and subscriptions speciﬁc to what you teach
- Income Protection Insurance
- Calculator, whistle, and stopwatch
- Entrance fees to school excursions
You can usually claim the cost of work clothing (including shirts, pants, skirts, jackets, jumpers – provided each item has the school’s logo on it) and the cost of washing or dry cleaning your work clothing.
Work tools and equipment
You can usually claim the cost of buying and repairing equipment you use at work, including tools, musical instruments, electronic organisers, laptop computers and mobile phones. Just make sure you keep all your receipts.
Overseas travel – conferences, study tours and sabbaticals
Travel expenses associated with an overseas conference, sabbatical, course or study tour will generally be deducible to the extent to which they achieve the following objectives:
- They enable you to become more proficient in carrying out your current income earning activities.
- They objectively lead to (or are likely to lead to) an increase in your income (i.e. the activity would assist in being promoted to a higher level).
If you want to claim expenses associated with travel in relation to teaching, you need to be aware of the following information the ATO will want to obtain in the event of an audit:
- A travel diary - is often required and always recommended.
- Employer Letter – a letter from your employer stating whether the trip was undertaken at their direction (or with consent), and the purpose of the trip. The letter should include details of any allowances, grants or reimbursement received in connection with the trip.
- Beneﬁt of the work trip – you’ll need to establish that the knowledge and experience gained from the trip enabled you to become more proﬁcient in carrying out your current work duties.
- Qualifications – include any addition qualifications you received on the trip.
- Trip itinerary – record details such as a description of each place you visited, activities undertaken and how it relates to your work. This should include an approximation of time spent in each place, amount of expenses incurred at each place, and proportion of time devoted to activities unrelated to work.
- Work related report –record whether you’re expected or required to prepare a written or oral report for the trip, for your employer or other colleagues.
- Taxpayer’s records – the ATO will want to see records from which the amount claimed has been calculated i.e. written evidence or receipts for expenses, and a travel diary which sets out details of activities undertaken.
- There are some tax deductions that all employees can claim on their personal tax returns, including:
- the amount of any donations to registered charities (as long as you haven’t received anything in return for your donation, such as raffle tickets or novelty items)
- the cost of bank fees charged on any investment accounts,
- your tax agent fees (the amount you pay to your accountant to prepare your tax return each year), and
- the cost of travelling to see your tax agent (you can claim the cost of travelling to see your accountant to have your tax return prepared. You should keep a record of the number of kilometres you travel and any other incidental costs such as parking, meals, accommodation etc.).
It's important that you keep receipts for all purchases that are work related, even if they’re not listed above. That way, when it comes to preparing your tax return it’s easier to decide whether you can claim a tax deduction for them or not.
If you would like more information, the ATO produces a free publication to assist teachers to prepare their tax return, it is called ‘Teachers’ and a new version is released each year. Visit the ATO website and enter ‘Teachers’ in the search box at the top of the screen. You can also visit the JSA Accounting website.
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