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Top tips - Teacher tax time Tax deductions for teachers

10 Jul 2018

It's that time of year again. The previous financial year is over, and now you need to collect your receipts and figure out your tax return. Do you gather all of your documents and visit an accountant? Or do you save some money and tackle it yourself?

Thankfully the ATO's online lodgement system has made sorting your own tax return a more straightforward, less daunting task, but to maximise your return it's worth doing some research on what deductions you can claim.

Below are some of the tax deductions you may be able to claim on your personal tax return, if you work as a teacher:

Meals and travel

  • The cost of car parking, taxis and public transport if you are required to travel to attend seminars, meetings, training courses and excursions (if you need to stay away overnight you can also claim for the cost of all meals and your accommodation)
  • The cost of using your own car for work, including travel to pick up supplies for teaching, attend meetings, training courses or conferences, to excursions, sporting, art or cultural events as part of your teaching obligations or between two places of work (to claim for car costs it is usually best to keep a diary record of the number of kilometres you travel during the year for work purposes and then you can calculate the amount of your tax deduction at the end of the year).

Work clothing

  • The cost of buying work clothing (including shirts, pants, skirts, jackets, jumpers – provided each item has the school’s logo on it)
  • The cost of laundry or dry cleaning of your work clothing
  • The cost of buying any protective equipment required, including gloves, goggles, masks, steel-capped boots, gumboots, sun protection items (sunglasses, hats and sunscreen), laboratory coats, art smocks and aprons. This is only relevant if the protective items are required to be worn by the school due to potential dangers in your work environment.

Training

  • The cost of work-related short training, in-service or professional development courses, which are not run by a University or TAFE (you can also claim for the cost of travelling to and from the course and any accommodation and meal expenses if you are required to stay away overnight)
  • The cost of self-education courses run by a University (not including HECS/HELP fees) or TAFE (for example Bachelor of Education), provided they relate to your CURRENT work. If you are studying, you can also claim for the cost of books, stationery, equipment and travel required for your course.

Work tools and equipment

  • The cost of buying and repairing equipment you use at work, including tools, musical instruments, electronic organisers, laptop computers and mobile phones
  • The cost of any materials or supplies that you buy for use at work, for example teaching aids, prizes, office stationery, diary, work bag or briefcase.

Other work expenses

  • The cost of annual association membership fees or union fees (for example Teachers Federation)
  • The cost of work-related magazines or journals
  • The cost of newspapers purchased for teaching purposes
  • The cost of work-related books and professional library additions
  • The cost of stop watches, repairs and batteries (but NOT ordinary wrist watches)
  • The cost of organising and attending school excursions, trips and camps (but NOT the cost of attending staff dinners or other social functions)
  • The cost of work-related mobile or home telephone calls and rental (you should keep a diary record of the number of phone calls you make for work for one month that can be used to estimate your usage for the whole year)
  • The cost of work-related internet connection fees (you can only claim the proportion of your monthly fees that relate to work use, which could include emailing or research relating to your job)
  • The cost of the work-related portion of pay TV rental fees (you should keep a diary to record how many hours per week you spend watching pay TV for teaching purposes)
  • The cost of maintaining a home office if you are required to complete work at home (you should keep a diary to record how many hours per week you spend working from your home office).

General Expenses

There are some tax deductions that all employees can claim on their personal tax returns:

  • 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
  • The cost of income protection or sickness and accident insurance premiums (this type of insurance covers you if you hurt yourself (including when you are not at work) or become sick and you are unable to work. It will pay you your normal wage until you are fit to return to work – if you don’t have this insurance, it is worth looking into).
  • Your tax agent fees (the amount you pay to your accountant to prepare your tax return each year)
  • 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 are not listed above. That way, when it comes to preparing your tax return it is easier to decide whether you are allowed to claim a tax deduction for them or not.

The above information was sourced from 'Personal Tax Specialists'.

This is general advice only and doesn't take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Credit Union SA has received permission from Personal Tax Specialists to provide this information. It does not have a relationship with Personal Tax Specialists. The information provided is to be used as a guide only and Credit Union SA does not endorse any of the information provided nor does it endorse Personal Tax Specialists as a provider of taxation advice. You will need to consult with a registered tax agent before acting on the material provided.