Tax time is almost here again and the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has a range of tips and information to make lodging your return trouble-free.
The ATO has created a work expenses guide for the security industry to help you understand what you can and can’t claim this year.
As a result of COVID-19, you might have a few new or different claims this year. If you’ve received a COVID-19 support payment, remember the tax treatment varies so make sure you brush up on the ATO’s guide to covid support payments.
And don’t forget that COVID-19 tests you purchased for work purposes are now tax deductible. You can claim a deduction for a COVID-19 test you paid for from 1 July 2021 as longs as you:
- used the test for a work-related purpose
- had a qualifying COVID-19 test, such as a PCR test or a rapid antigen test
- have a record of your purchase
- paid for the test yourself and were not reimbursed for the cost by your employer.
You can’t claim the cost of normal trips between home and work, even if you live a long way from your usual workplace or have to work outside normal business hours – for example, you’re on call, you work weekends or early morning shifts.
You can claim the cost of using a car you own when you drive:
- directly between separate jobs on the same day – for example, from your first job as a security guard to your second job as a bartender
- to and from an alternate workplace for the same employer on the same day – for example, between different venues where you perform your duties as a security guard.
In limited circumstances, you can claim the cost of trips between home and work where you have shifting places of employment (that is, you have no fixed place of work and you continually travel from one work site to another throughout your shift).
You can’t claim a deduction when using a vehicle provided by your employer, unless you covered the cost of fuel, were not reimbursed by your employer, and the cost was a result of you performing your employment duties.
If you claim car expenses, you can use the logbook method or the cents per kilometre method to calculate your deduction.
If you use the logbook method, you need to keep a valid logbook to work out the percentage of work‑related use along with written evidence of your car expenses.
If you use the cents per kilometre method, you need to be able to show how you calculated your work‑related kilometres and that those kilometres were work related.
If you claim your work‑related car expenses using one of the above methods, you can’t claim any further deductions in the same tax return for the same car. For example, petrol, servicing, and insurance costs.
Clothing and laundry expenses
With a few exceptions, clothing can’t be deducted as a work‑related expense.
You can’t claim the cost to buy, hire, repair or clean conventional clothing you wear for work, even if your employer requires you to wear it and you only wear these items of clothing at work. ‘Conventional clothing’ is everyday clothing worn by people – for example, jeans, black pants or sneakers.
You can claim the cost to buy, hire, repair or clean clothing if it is:
- protective – items with protective features or functions you wear to protect you from specific risks of injury or illness at For example, a bullet‑proof vest or high‑vis vest
- a compulsory uniform – clothing you are explicitly required to wear by a workplace agreement or policy, which is strictly and consistently enforced, and is sufficiently distinctive to your organisation. For example, an embroidered shirt with your employer’s logo that is compulsory for you to wear at work.
You can’t claim a deduction if your employer pays for or reimburses you for these expenses.
and training courses
You can claim for the cost of seminars, conferences and training courses that relate to your work in the security industry – for example,
If you’re required to provide your own guard dog for a work‑related purpose, you can claim a deduction for ongoing expenses such as food, veterinary expenses and registration costs.
You can’t claim a deduction if your employer-provided the dog or reimbursed you for the costs.
Meal and snack expenses
You can’t claim the cost of food, drink or snacks you consume during your normal working hours, even if you receive an allowance. These are private expenses.
If you receive an overtime meal allowance under an industrial law, award or agreement and it’s included in your assessable income, you can claim the cost of the meal that you buy and eat when you work overtime.
Licence, permit or card expenses
You can claim renewal fees for a licence or ticket required to perform your employment duties in the security industry.
You can’t claim the initial cost of getting a licence or ticket in order to gain employment.
a Certificate II in Security Operations.
You can’t claim for the cost of a course if it is only related in a general way to your current employment or designed to help you get a new job.
Guard dog expenses
You generally can’t claim guard dog expenses, unless:
- your duties require you to use a guard dog
- the dog is trained to be a guard dog from a young age
- the dog is not treated like your pet or your family’s pet.
You can claim the work‑related portion of other expenses that relate to your employment, including:
- tools and equipment, including repairs and insurance (such as a flashlight or a utility belt)
- phone and internet costs with records showing your work‑related use
- union and professional association
You can’t claim private expenses such as fitness, driver’s licence, music subscriptions, childcare or fines.
This is a general summary only.
For more information, go to ato.gov.au/security or speak to a registered tax professional.
Finally, if you need help completing and lodging your tax return and your income is $60,000 or less, you may be eligible for the ATO’s free Tax Help program.
For anything more, check out ato.gov.au/guardsPR.