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Individuals May Be Able To Claim On These COVID-19 Related Expenses On This Year’s Return…

People across different industries may have different items for work that they can claim a deduction on their tax returns for, but this season may see a few common occurrences across individual tax returns for 2022.

On your individual tax return this year, you may notice a few expenses pertaining to COVID-19-related purchases, such as masks, hand sanitisers and RATs tests that you may be able to claim (depending on your circumstances). These deductions may have specific conditions and requirements that must be met, and failure to comply may result in the Australian Taxation Office disallowing these claims.

Masks and hand sanitiser are claimable deductions for those who have required them to work in their industry (e.g. retail, hospitality, education). This is because they can be claimed as PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), but they must be directly connected to how you earn your income (for example, many State governments mandated at various points last year that hospitality workers were required to wear masks while working). If your place of employment did not provide this PPE to you, and you had to purchase it yourself, it may be claimable.

Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) however, must be purchased for a work-related purpose. There have been plans to specifically allow deductions for Covid-19 tests such as RATs by the Government to be claimed on individual tax returns.

This legislation is scheduled to be introduced on 1st July to specifically address this, but a COVID-19 RAT test can still be claimable if it is for a work-related purpose. This is the critical point to understand. It is a claimable deduction in this instance because it has been purchased for a work-related reason, or to be able to attend your place of work.

When claiming a deduction, it is important that you keep accurate records (such as receipts) to provide evidence of your purchase, and that these purchases weren’t reimbursed by your employer. If they were reimbursed, you will not be able to claim it back.

If you were working from home during 2021, you may be able to claim back some of the expenses related to this. One of the ways that you may be able to do so is through the ‘shortcut method’. This method allows you to claim 80 cents per hour for each hour worked from home (from 01 March 2020 to 30 June 2022). Importantly though, this includes everything – you don’t need to make other claims for work from home items such as phone, internet, stationery or furniture/equipment depreciation separately.

Depending on your circumstances, choosing the wrong method means you could cheat yourself out of big dollars on your tax return. Discuss your situation with your trusted tax agent so that you can understand what exactly is required from you in the lead up to tax return time.

If you’re someone who often finds it difficult to make large lump sum payments for goods or services, you may want to consider looking into “Buy Now Pay Later” services.

Buy now pay later essentially means that, rather than paying in a full lump sum payment for a product or services rendered, there may be an option to pay through instalments of a certain amount over a set period to make the sum of the full amount in total. This method should allow you to pay in full for the product or service without overly straining your finances – you pay back what you can, as agreed upon when you begin the buy now pay later service.

Some popular buy now pay later services include Afterpay, Zip Pay, Brightepay, and some credit card networks such as  Mastercard and Visa, can offer buy now pay later arrangements.

Though it can be a convenient, immediate solution, it may be challenging to juggle the necessary repayments with other financial commitments. It’s not always the most appropriate method for people, and you should bear in mind your situation and ability in paying back the amounts. 

Before you sign up, keep in mind: 

  • It becomes easier to overspend with buy now pay later services, so know your limits on what you can and can’t afford.
  • You will be charged fees and costs to use the service, which can add up to a princely sum in and of itself.
  • Keeping track of your payments can be tricky if you’ve signed up for multiple services.
  • It could affect your loan applications for a car or mortgage as lenders consider buy now pay later spending just as much as your credit score.
  • Late repayments can appear on your credit report, which affects your ability to borrow money in the future.
  • Layby can be a cheaper alternative to buy now pay later, with no account-keeping or late fees to consider

If you are someone who could make use of BNPL services, you may wish to:

  • Ensure that when using the BNPL service, you stick to a set limit on what you spend so that you can comfortably pay it back later. 
  • Aim only to have one BNPL account at a time to manage payments through, rather than confuse yourself with multiple payments across different providers.
  • Always budget for bills, loan payments and BNPL payments, and 
  • Rather than use your credit card for payments to your BNPL account, consider linking to your debit account instead.

If you would like assistance in planning your financial future, help in managing your budget or some friendly advice, see us for a chat about what we can do for you.

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John Briggs

Jane Noller has been my accountant for the last 15 plus years. I can testify to Jane’s professionalism and expeditious manner in dealing with the day to day issues that surrounds our business accounting.

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