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Tax time: 10 expenses nurses might not know they can claim

Nurses are leaving permanent employment for contracting work at an unprecedented rate, and although that decision offers better working conditions and pay, many independent nurses do not know what to claim come tax time.

A survey from the Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association (APNA) revealed that 87 per cent of nurses said they felt stressed at work, 80 per cent reported exhaustion and 73 per cent said they work too much.

With respect to these numbers, it’s no surprise many are seeking out the better working conditions, pay and flexibility offered by independent nursing. 

This means that a larger portion of the nursing workforce than ever are currently experiencing the headache that comes at EOFY, as thousands review their expenses in preparation for their tax return. 

Research from Hnry’s March 2024 Sole Trader Pulse – the only nationwide survey of self-employed people in Australia, including contract nurses and NDIS workers – reveals the burden of financial admin means only 64 per cent of sole traders claim all of the business expenses they’re entitled to.

Of those who don’t claim everything, the two main reasons were: not being bothered with the hassle (35 per cent); and uncertainty around what can and cannot be claimed (33 per cent). 

This equates to an average loss of $5500 in unclaimed expenses every year.

As the cost of living continues to bite, that amount of unclaimed expense can go a long way for nurses who are already working excessive overtime, often for limited, or no, remuneration. 

Amidst balancing the duty of delivering expert patient care and long shifts, it’s easy for nurses to overlook potential deductions that can significantly impact their financial well-being.

While many are aware of common deductions such as bank fees, equipment purchases and travel expenses, there are many more that nurses they don't know about – from the helpful to the unexpected. 

Here are 10 lesser known tax-deductible expenses you might not be aware of: 

  1. Digital health record software
    Subscribing to software for managing patient records and appointments is not just an administrative convenience, but also a deductible expense, streamlining patient care and billing processes.
  2. Mobile health equipment
    Investing in portable health monitoring devices enables comprehensive patient care across various settings, from handheld ultrasound devices to wireless vital sign monitors.
  3. Protective footwear High-quality footwear designed for healthcare professionals not only enhances comfort during long shifts but also mitigates the risk of workplace injuries, making it a legitimate business expense.
  4. Telehealth setup
    In today’s digital age, investing in equipment and software for virtual consultations is essential for facilitating remote patient care, warranting its inclusion as a deductible expense.
  5. Patient education materials
    Creating customised educational materials empowers patients and fosters health literacy, thereby qualifying as a deductible expense for contract nurses.
  6. Cultural Competency training
    Recognizing the importance of cultural sensitivity in healthcare, investment in training programs or resources aimed at serving diverse populations is an eligible deduction.
  7. Simulation training equipment
    Hands-on practice facilitated by simulation training equipment, such as birthing simulators, enhances nurses’ skills development and qualifies as a deductible expense.
  8. Branded scrubs or uniforms
    Custom-branded scrubs not only contribute to a professional appearance but also serve as a means of brand promotion, making them a legitimate business expense.
  9. Patient events
    Hosting events like breastfeeding support groups fosters community engagement and strengthens patient relationships, warranting their inclusion as deductible expenses.
  10. Professional development
    Attending events and conferences for learning and networking purposes is crucial for nurses’ professional growth and is therefore eligible for deduction.
Karan Anand and the managing
director of Hnry. Picture: Supplied

Our research shows that contract nurses and other sole traders spend an average of seven hours a month on claiming expenses, and almost one day per week on financial admin.

Getting the most out of tax season begins with knowing what is and isn’t claimable and relieving contract nurses of the mental load of tax time so they can focus on what really matters - delivering expert care and support. 

Karan Anand is Managing Director in Australia of Hnry, a digital account and tax automation service for sole traders, including contract nurses, NDIS workers and locum doctors.

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