ASK US WEDNESDAY: “Just what CAN freelancers claim at tax-time?”

by Leo Wiles
27 September 2017

I’m about to do my tax and always do the bare minimum just to get it done. I’m sure I’m missing out on things I could claim, but I don’t use an accountant (yet). What would be your advice be? Ange

 Very good question, Ange. The ATO‘s golden rules for expenses are:

·      You must have spent the money yourself and weren’t reimbursed
·      It must be directly related to earning your income
·      You must have a record to prove it.

If the expense was for both work and private purposes, you can only claim a deduction for the work-related portion. However, if the expense was related to voluntary work you cannot claim a deduction. 

While travel and vehicle expenses may be stretching your friendship with the ATO (unless you are a travel writer) there are a ton of legitimate expenses you may be missing out on. Sure, we all claim for our landline and a large chunk of our internet usage – but are you submitting your mobile phone receipts as well as repairs or maintenance on your home office desks, chairs, lamp, foot rest, air con/heater, computer screens?

Other expenses you can claim include:

Make-up. Before you get all excited and go digging for the receipt for that $150 DIOR smoky eye shadow set, this is make-up related to work only (darn it). So, if your concealer contains SPF and you’re a photographer or environmental journo who spends a lot of time on the road working, definitely claim it.

Handbags / man bags. So you sprung for that cool Crumpler bag not realising that the big bucks you paid for it were claimable. But they are – IF you use the bag to cart around a laptop, mobile phone, pens and a notepad. Which is basically all of us who put in a few hours at our local coffice, right?

A cleaner. With a designated workspace you can claim a percentage of your home clean.  The same goes for having items you use for work repaired and or cleaned.  Check out the Home Office Calculator to find out what you can claim on the above, or for water, heating, cooling and lighting.

Pay TV. Like magazines and trade periodical subscriptions, if you can prove that you need to keep abreast of industry news in say finance and need SKY News then definitely tot up those receipts.

Artwork. If you meet clients in your home or photograph them there like I do, then you can look at deductions for creating ambience. That includes up to $20k on art works for public-facing areas like a reception area or meeting room.

Sunglasses and sun-hats. Regularly working outdoors and need sun protection then you can claim it. Now where did I leave the Maui Jim catalogue…

Dry-cleaning. For those of us with corporate clients that requires digging out a suit every now and then, don’t forget to look into claiming your dry-cleaning or laundry expenses.

Software. Can’t stand your out dated Windows or Adobe packages? Consider upgrading them, knowing that for the percentage of time you use it for work can be deducted from your income.

Life insurance premiums. If you pay premiums through your super fund, they are tax deductible. 

Rachel’s List membership fees. And other professional associations like MEAA union dues – these are all tax deductible.

Oh, and if you’re looking for a new accountant (or as in Ange’s case, might want to try one in the future), don’t forget we have discount accountancy packages for annual Gold members. Contact us for details.

Do you claim all the stuff above, or anything we haven’t mentioned?

Leo Wiles

Leo Wiles has worked as an editor, journalist and PR for over 20 years before recently retraining as a photographer. These days, she spends her time behind a lens, juggling her own clients with her work at Rachel's List, and her three gorgeous but lively kids.

2 responses on "ASK US WEDNESDAY: “Just what CAN freelancers claim at tax-time?”"

  1. Kylie orr says:

    Very helpful! Thanks Leo.

    1. Leo Wiles says:

      You’re welcome – glad to be of service – it’s always hard to claw back!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Send this to a friend