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ATO Tax Talk August 2018: Claiming work-related expenses and business expenses

The following community information is brought to you by the Australian Taxation Office. Interview with Jagjit Singh.

As an Individual, when working out whether an expense is tax deductible there are three Golden Rules that must be met:

  • Have you spent the money yourself and not been reimbursed by your employer?
  • Does it directly relate to the earning of your income?
  • Do you have a record to prove it?

Keep in mind; if the expense was for both work and private purposes, then you can only claim a deduction for the work-related portion.

Similarly, if you operate a small business, to help you work out if a business expense is tax deductible, you must apply these three Golden Rules:

  • You must have spent the money for your business – it cannot be a private expense
  • If the expense is for a mix of business and private use, you can only claim the portion that relates to your business, and
  • You must have records to prove it.

If your work has reimbursed you for an expense, then this is not a tax deductible item. The ATO can seek information from your employer, if it suspects you have claimed a deduction for an expense for which you have already been reimbursed.

Another tip is to remember to keep thorough records, including any receipts to help substantiate your claims. 

If you operate a small business, you can’t claim a deduction for expenses that aren’t directly related to earning business income, such as, entertainment expenses, traffic fines and money you earn from a hobby.

Jagjit Singh, Community Relations Officer, ATO
Jagjit Singh, Community Relations Officer, ATO

Even though circumstances can change each year, there are a number of resources available to provide relevant tax time information to taxpayers.

If you need some help with your tax return, a free Tax Help service is available in many local community centres.  

You can find out more information on the ATO’s website –

If you need some help, you can speak with a tax officer in your native language by phoning the Translating and Interpreting Service on 13 14 50 and ask to be connected to 13 28 66.

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