Taxing times

Most of the things that helped you with your studies or to do your job well are tax deductible

It's goodbye to the 2012-13 financial year and time to get your tax affairs in order. Spring is on its way and you can spend a cosy night or three during winter digging out all the mountains of receipts you've (hopefully) saved.

What receipts, you say? Well, now is the time to rectify bad habits if you haven't been filing all tax deductible expenses. Make yourself a filing system and put all work or study expense receipts into it religiously. Clear your purse or wallet fortnightly, throw away any useless receipts and file the tax deductible ones.

Most of the things that helped you with your studies or to do your job well are tax deductible. Just remember, to claim tax deductions you must be earning more than the tax-free threshold, which is currently $18,201 per year. However, even if you've earned less than this but had tax deducted because you worked a part-year, you're still entitled to claim the tax back.

Your group certificate from your employer/s or statement of annual income from Centrelink will give you all the vital information to get started. Now, read on to see the list of items that you can potentially count as tax deductible. Consider deducting:

  • course fees (but not if you've obtained VET FEE-HELP to pay for your course)
  • books, workbooks and trade journals relevant to your work or study
  • briefcases/luggage or suitcases (provided they're work-related)
  • calculators and electronic organisers
  • electronic tablets
  • stationery
  • tools of trade (or profession)
  • compulsory (or non-compulsory and registered) uniforms, occupation specific and protective clothing
  • dry cleaning, laundry and repair expenses for work clothing
  • sun protection clothing, lotions or devices
  • unions fees
  • subscriptions to trade, professional or business associations
  • magazine or newspaper subscriptions
  • convention, seminar and conference expenses
  • income protection insurance (but not death or total/permanent disability insurance)
  • bridge or road tolls (incurred while on business)
  • car parking (when travelling on business)
  • gifts or donations to registered charities
  • tax agent or accountancy fees
  • home-office expenses; such as cleaning, heating and cooling, lighting, telephone, internet and depreciation of office furniture and computers.
  • Here's some more good news. If you've borrowed money from a private financial provider to fund your course fees, the interest you've paid during the 2012-2013 financial year is tax deductible under self-education expenses. Consult your lender to calculate the interest amount you can deduct for 2012-13.

    As with all financial matters, you should consult your own registered financial adviser or the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to be sure that this general advice suits your individual circumstances. The ATO's e-tax facility allows you to lodge your claim online and guides you through the requirements step by step. Give this a go if your tax affairs are pretty simple.

    This post was originally published on TAFEnow on 27 June 2013. TAFEnow is an Australia-wide online provider, operating out of North Coast TAFE, one of the 10 TAFE NSW Institutes. Enquiries can be directed to