Adam’s COVID-19 tax advice in Australian Financial Review

What remote working means for your tax return. ITC Australian Financial Review March 2020

Adam Beasley, Principal Tax Agent at Interactive Tax Consultants, offers valuable tax advice on remote working during COVID-19 in an article published in The Australian Financial Review.



Make sure you keep a representative diary for phone, internet & electricity to calculate your work related percentage.

Don’t claim for any equipment or expenses that are reimbursed or paid for by your employer.

Use a debit or credit card for work related expenses and keep the receipts, take a photo and store on your phone for tax time.

While working from home has its advantages, such as ditching the morning commute, it can affect your hip pocket if your employer isn’t reimbursing some of the costs associated with doing your job.

What remote working means for your tax return

If you are having to work remotely, you could be able to claim a deduction for expenses relating to your work, a spokesperson from the Australian Tax Office says.

You might be able to claim some deductions for working from home. Getty Deductions include the work-related portion of running expenses at home, such as lighting, cleaning, heating and cooling, as well as phone and internet.

“You will need to have paid for these costs (and not have been reimbursed) and have records to support your claims,” the spokesperson says.

You can also claim depreciation on computers and other equipment bought for over $300, says Adam Beasley from Interactive Tax Consultants.

Where equipment such as a laptop is used for private purposes as well as work use, you will need to remove the private percentage before you claim a deduction.

Generally, you can’t claim deductions for rent, mortgage insurance, property insurance or rates, unless your home office is your usual place of business.

“An employee’s home office will not be a place of business if they are working there temporarily as a result of COVID-19,” the ATO says.

In terms of running expenses, Beasley says workers can claim a fixed rate of 52¢ per hour, based on the average cost of heating, cooling, lighting and cleaning.

“To claim this amount you need to keep a record of your actual hours spent working at home for the year or keep a diary for a representative four-week period to show your usual pattern of working from home,” he adds.

This method incorporates all the items you are able to claim, including the decline in value of office furniture and furnishings such as desk and chair.

Don’t forget to keep records

Keep records of all expenses such as receipts (including for any depreciating assets you may have purchased) and diary entries to record small expenses of $10 or less (that total no more than $200).

The ATO also advises keeping itemised phone accounts to identify work-related calls. If you can’t get an itemised bill, keep diary entries.

You can also claim deductions on stationery items such as USB drives, paper and pens. if you need to purchase more data on cloud services like Google Drive or Dropbox, you may be able to claim a work-related portion of the cost.

“You will need to keep receipts for all equipment, phone and internet bills and expense purchases. It is best to use a credit or debit card and take a photo of the receipt so that you have a hard and soft copy,” Beasley says.

Still, there are areas where people can get caught out. These include failing to remove the private use percentage before claiming a deduction or not having evidence of purchase. Anything reimbursed or paid for by an employer cannot be claimed.

“There must be a clear nexus between the expenses and earning your income,” he says.

If you are uncertain about how or what to claim, check with your tax agent. For more information on tax deductions around working from home, visit the ATO’s website.

Natasha Boddy is Work & Careers reporter with The Australian Financial Review. She was previously a homepage editor and online producer. Connect with Natasha on Twitter. Email Natasha at [email protected]


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