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Revealed: How to Claim Cash Reimbursement for COVID-19, Work From Home and Flood Expenses at Tax Time

Australians who have been affected by floods, paid for COVID-19 tests and worked from home in the last year can claim a cash refund at tax time – but there is a ‘rule of thumb’ ” which must be followed. Here’s what you need to know.

Australian residents who paid for a COVID-19 test and shelled out money for flood-related expenses and working from home can now claim a deduction on their tax returns.

Workers can start filing returns after June 30 and have until October 31 to file their claims with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

H&R Block’s director of tax communications Mark Chapman said the “rule of thumb” is that a claim cannot be made without proof that the money was spent – and also that it didn’t. not been reimbursed by an employer.

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Mr Chapman said taxpayers should ensure they have kept all relevant receipts, invoices, bank statements and credit card statements.

“If you’re not sure you can make a claim, keep the receipt anyway,” he said.

Here are some surprising expenses you can claim this tax season:

COVID-19 test fees

Australians could qualify for a tax deduction for the cost of a COVID-19 test (whether PCR tests or rapid antigen tests) when taken for work-related purposes.

RATs purchased by individuals for private use are not tax deductible.

“If you bought a COVID-19 test for a trip with your friends, you cannot claim a deduction,” said ATO tax time spokesman Deputy Commissioner Tim Loh.

“If you are spending your workday near customers and are at risk of contracting COVID-19, you may be able to claim a deduction for protective items such as gloves, face masks or sanitizer.”

A record to prove the purchase of a test – a receipt or an invoice – is important.

Documentation – considered reasonable proof – showing the cost of the test and the requirement to take it for work purposes might also suffice.

For example, a bank or credit card statement or proof from an employer may be provided.

Taxpayers who practice a profession that requires physical contact or proximity to clients or customers during the COVID-19 period can claim a deduction for items such as:

  • Gloves
  • Face masks
  • Disinfectant
  • Antibacterial spray.

Eligible jobs could include:

  • Fitness industry (including personal trainers)
  • Teachers
  • Retailers
  • Hair salon
  • Beauticians
  • Medical (including doctors, nurses, housekeepers and receptionists/clerical staff)

Expenses related to floods/natural disasters

Mr Chapman said the costs of cleaning up after a flood in commercial premises can be claimed.

“If you are employed by a business that has been affected by the floods and you have purchased or rented cleaning equipment or products to help you clean your workplace, you can claim a deduction for the costs incurred”, he told SkyNews.com.au.

Australians who have been affected by a natural disaster and received a relief payment from a local, state or federal government agency may have to report it and pay taxes.

According to the ATO, most one-time assistance payments are tax-exempt, but they may need to be included on tax returns.

Travel

Taxpayers generally cannot claim the cost of commuting to and from work, but they can claim the cost of travel between two places of work.

“This includes public transport and taxi fares,” Mr Chapman told SkyNews.com.au.

“In addition, you can claim travel expenses between two separate jobs, provided you do not return home in the meantime.”

Those who use their own car for business purposes can claim a flat rate of 72 cents per kilometer for all work trips or can claim actual expenses incurred.

But receipts for all charges (including road tolls and parking charges) and a logbook of all journeys for a 12-week period must be kept.

Professional development

Expenses for university fees and TAFE may also be claimed if the course relates to current employment where the taxpayer is not being reimbursed.

Costs associated with studies such as textbooks, travel to the educational institution and stationery may also be claimed.

Homework expenses

Australians who have had to move from business premises to their homes for at least part of the last financial year amid the COVID-19 pandemic can claim a rate of 80 cents per hour worked (including expenses) or 52 cents per hour (expenses calculated separately).

  • Under the 80 cents per hour method, no other claims related to working from home (mobile phone, internet usage all inclusive) can be made
  • Under the flat rate method of 52 cents per hour, expenses can be calculated separately (home office space, phone and internet usage)

A record of the number of hours worked from home due to COVID-19 should be kept.

Charitable spending

The ATO is also urging taxpayers to understand what makes a donation tax deductible on their tax return for a donation they have made.

“We know Australians are very charitable and after the recent floods we expect to see a lot of donations and tax deductions this year,” Mr Loh said.

“Before you rush to claim a donation on your tax return, it’s important to understand what makes a donation tax deductible. The donation must be made to a deductible donation recipient (DGR).”

Not all charities and nonprofits are RDGs. Taxpayers can confirm an organization’s DGR status by checking the ABN search on business.gov.au.