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Guest post: how healthcare workers can simplify their tax deductions

Tax time can be a time of dread for many healthcare workers as you try to sift through boxes of receipts to work out what deductions you can claim on your tax return.

You aren’t alone. In fact, healthcare workers are among the top claimers of work-related expenses of any industry, according to data from the Australian Taxation Office.

The nature of your work means you typically will have a lot of expenses to claim on your return, and that means a lot of receipts to keep track of throughout the year.

Simplify your taxes: Graham Whyte.

Simplify your taxes: Graham Whyte.

To simplify the claiming process, the ATO has developed a new tool within its ATO App called myDeductions that lets you track your expenses on the go throughout the year and, come tax time, you can upload them all and prefill your return. More than 40,000 people have already uploaded their deductions through the tool this tax-time.

Within the tool, you simply input the cost of your expense, the date, a brief description and select the deduction type. From there you can also snap a photo of your receipt to ensure you keep a record that’s saved on your phone and you’re all set.

The myDeductions feature is part of the ATO’s mission to make tax simple, and we want to ensure that taxpayers are claiming everything they’re entitled to: no more, no less.

Generally, if you are unsure whether you can claim an expense you can follow our Three Golden Rules:

  1. You must have spent the money yourself and can’t have been reimbursed.
  2. The expense must be related to your work.
  3. You must have a record of the purchase to prove it.

There are however some key areas of work-related expenses that constantly cause confusion for healthcare workers, namely deductions relating to car, travel, clothing and self-education expenses.

Here are some basic tips to help you work out what you can claim deductions for...

Car expenses

You typically can't claim car deductions on trips between your home and work unless:

  • Your home was a base of employment and you traveled to a different workplace to work for the same employer.
  • You regularly worked at more than one site each day before returning home.
  • You had to use your car to carry bulky tools.

Travel expenses

If your employer requires you to travel overnight, you may be able to claim some associated costs like accommodation, meals, petrol and parking. If you claim, you should be able to show:

  • Travel was for work purposes.
  • You were away from home overnight.
  • You spent the money.

Receiving a travel allowance does not automatically entitle you to a travel expense deduction. You still need to show that your employer required you to be away from home overnight and you spent the money.

Clothing expenses

You cannot claim the cost of purchasing or laundering plain clothing such as black pants or white shirts, even if your employer requires you to wear them, however, you may be entitled to claim a deduction for work clothing if it is:

  • Distinctive; for example, it features your employer’s name or logo.
  • A compulsory uniform or is registered with AusIndustry.
  • Protective.
  • Occupation-specific and would not be worn outside of the workplace.

You can also claim the cost of laundering these items but you must use a reasonable basis to calculate your expenses.

Self-education expenses

You may be able to claim a deduction for work-related education expenses if your studies directly relate to your current job, such as upgrading your qualifications or improving specific skills.

You cannot, however, claim courses that only relate to your employment in a general way, or that you are undertaking to obtain new employment.

Graham Whyte is ATO Assistant Commissioner. Find out more about work-related expenses at ato.gov.au/deductions.

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