As your Tax Agent here are the 6 most common questions we are asked during an appointment:
There are two different methods for claiming work related motor vehicle expenses and each have different record keeping requirements. To use the method that ensures you the best claim it is advisable to keep a log book and all receipts for expenses (e.g. insurance, registration, repairs, services, tyres, etc.). You can claim fuel and oil costs based on either your actual receipts or you can estimate the expenses based on odometer records that show readings from the start and the end of the period you had the car during the year. Your log book should be kept for a minimum of 12 consecutive weeks and generally it will be valid for five years unless there are significant changes in your circumstances. You also need to keep the opening and closing odometer reading for each year.
A deduction will only be allowed if you have actually incurred a work-related expense and have the necessary documentation. Travel to and from your job is generally not claimable unless, for example, you are carrying bulky equipment. Some awards allow for a payment of an allowance even though an expense is not necessarily incurred by the employee. If a deduction can be claimed it cannot be for more than the expense that you incurred even if the allowance that you have received was higher.
If a taxpayer carries on all or part of their employment activities from home and has an office set aside to do the work, some portion of the running expenses can be deducted. A diary should be kept for a minimum of 4 weeks stating hours the office was used for work related purposes. The Commissioner’s rate of 52 cents per hour can then be claimed for the hours the home office is used. Only running expenses (electricity, heating and depreciation of office equipment) can be claimed for home office unless the home is being used as a place of business.
Where a home is a place of business (and is easily identified as such – for example a separate entrance, signage, clients/customers coming to set area of your home etc.), deductions can be claimed on occupancy and running expenses including:
- mortgage interest
- house insurance
- council rates
- pest control