The Tax Office has carpenters, joiners and apprentices in their sights in 2011. So it’s more important than ever for these workers to know exactly what they can claim for and what records they need to keep before lodging their tax returns this year.
Tracey Collins, from Personal Tax Specialists, says “the Tax Office has decided to target these occupations because of the high amount of work related expenses they claim compared to other workers in the building industry. In particular they will be reviewing claims for motor vehicle and travel expenses as well as home office, mobile phone and internet expenses”.
But just because the Tax Office is targeting your occupation this year, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t claim any deductions in your tax return. But you should be careful.
Tracey says “it is important that you continue to claim for legitimate work expenses, because the Tax Office will be looking closely at people whose deductions change significantly from last year. Just make sure you don’t claim for expenses that are not allowable or that you don’t have the records to prove.”
To help carpenters, joiners and apprentices who are not sure what they can claim or what records they need to keep, Tracey has provided a summary of the key areas the Tax Office will be checking in 2011.
Motor vehicle expenses
Carpenters, joiners and apprentices can claim for using their car to:
- Travel between job sites during the day
- Travel to attend training courses, including TAFE for apprentices
- Travel to and from work, but only if you are required to carry bulky or heavy tools with you and there is no secure area to store the tools at work overnight
- Travel to pick up materials and supplies for work
The records you will need to keep will depend on the type of vehicle you own and the number of kilometres you travel during the year. At the very least, if you only occassionally use your car for work travel, you should keep a diary record of all of these trips. If you use your car every day for work you should keep receipts for all of your car expenses and also keep a log book for at least three months during the year to prove the work related proportion of your car usage.
Travel expenses, including public transport, tolls, parking fees or car hire costs, can be claimed:
- To attend training courses
- To travel between job sites during the day
Accomodation and/or meal expenses can also be claimed, but only when:
- You stay away overnight to attend training courses, including block release for apprentices
- You stay away overnight for work
- You receive an overtime meal allowance from your employer
You must keep receipts for all of your travel costs to prove your claims.
Home office expenses
If you need to complete any work at home, e.g. if you are studying or have to do paperwork, you can claim:
- The extra cost of heating, cooling and lighting you have to pay because you work from home
- The cost of office furniture, including desk, chair and filing cabinets
- The cost of computer equipment, including laptop, printer and scanner
Rather than having to keep receipts, the Tax Office allows you to claim 34c for every hour you work at home. This covers the cost of electricity and gas and the purchase of office furniture. You will need to keep a diary for at least four weeks each year to show how you calculated the number of hours you work from home. If you also want to claim for computer equipment, you will need to keep receipts for these items.
Mobile phone expenses
If you use your mobile phone for work, you can claim:
- The cost of any work related phone calls
- The cost of any phone calls related to your training courses
- The phone rental cost if you are required to be on call or if your employer requires you to carry a mobile phone
You will need to keep all of your itemised phone bills or if you use a prepaid phone you should keep all of your recharge vouchers. You will also need to keep a diary record for at least four weeks, showing the number of work or study calls you made and received, to prove your claim.
If you use the internet for your work, e.g. to send and receive emails, conduct research into new techniques and products, or to complete your training courses, you can claim:
- The work related portion of your monthly account
You will need to keep a diary record for at least four weeks, showing the number of hours you spend on the internet for work and how many hours you, and all of your family members, use the internet for personal use. You can then claim the proportion that relates to your work as a tax deduction.
These are only a few of the tax deductions that carpenters, joiners and apprentices can claim. For a complete list of the work related expenses, have a look at the Personal Tax Specialists’ website https://personaltaxspecialists.com.au/what-deductions-can-you-claim or contact Personal Tax Specialists Pty Ltd (firstname.lastname@example.org or 1300 335 675) to get help with preparing your tax return this year.
As long as you know exactly what you are allowed to claim, you fill in your tax return correctly and you have kept the proper records, then you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.
Tracey Collins, for the Personal Tax Specialists team
Personal Tax Specialists Pty Ltd
Your time and tree friendly tax accountants