The average Australian claims $3000 in tax deductions each year, but some occupations claim close to three times that amount in work-related claims, according to data from the Australian Taxation Office and online tax platform etax.com.au.
This week Etax revealed the top 10 occupations for work-related tax claims, topped by those in the real estate sector, who claimed $8,634, on average, when they filed their 2014-2015 tax returns.
The other nine top occupations include those that involve a significant amount of travel, such as truck drivers, at $5,059 a year, and tradies, coming in at fourth place with average claims of $4,871 a year.
Senior tax agent at Etax Simone Gielis says the top claiming occupation categories cover professions where workers incur a significant volume of expenses to do their jobs, but are less often reimbursed by their employers for these costs.
This is true of the legal profession, she says, which comes in second spot on the claims list, with average annual deductions of $7,156.
“Like real estate agents, they have a lot of work-related expenses that simply aren’t reimbursed, which can include travelling to see clients, self-education and annual registration fees,” Gielis says.
Gielis reminds workers that the ATO gives specific rules for claims in different occupations, and recommends individuals keep abreast of their different deduction rights, as well as understanding that when it comes down to it, the ability to make acceptable claims is all about “individual’s own expenses, the quality of their record-keeping and personal circumstances”.
Founder of Healthy Business Finances Stacey Price tells SmartCompany that many professionals want to maximise car expense claims if they travel often for work, but many still don’t understand the requirements of the “logbook” method of claiming travel.
Since July 2015, there are only two ways of claiming car travel expenses: using the ‘cents per kilometre’ calculation model, and using a logbook to track all travel.
“You get a better deduction if you choose the logbook method, but people tend to get one or two days into it and want to throw it out the window,” Price says.
There are now plenty of apps and tax tools available for individuals to collate data on where they travel and why, but Price reminds taxpayers that any logbooks must cover a 12-week period, and should also include private travel if you’re using a private vehicle, rather than just tracking your business trips.
“We have some people who only want to put the business trips in the logbook, which defeats the purpose,” she says.
The point of using a log to track travel is to determine the percentage of the time a vehicle is used for work, so all trips, including things like dropping kids off at school throughout the day, should be recorded to make an accurate claim.
“I feel that there’s potentially people missing some of those steps with their logbooks,” Price says.
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Highest work-related claims by occupation, on average, according to ATO data and Etax:
1. Real estate agents – $8634
2. Lawyers – $7156
3. Truck drivers – $5059
4. Tradies – $4871
5. Farmers – $4428
6. Engineers – $4415
7. Accountants – $3224
8. Teachers – $3164
9. Nurses – $2622
10. Bankers – $2223