The ATO have created a myth-busting guide to explain which work-related expenses you can claim – and which you can’t.
Myth: I can claim makeup that contains sunscreen if I work outside.
Fact: We all like to look good, but cosmetics are usually a private expense and the addition of sun protection does not make it deductible. However, it may be deductible if the primary purpose of the product is sunscreen (that is, it has a high SPF rating), the cosmetic component is incidental, and you need to work outdoors in the sun.
Myth: I can claim my gym membership because I need to be fit for work.
Fact: While you might like to keep fit, there are only a very small number of people who can claim gym memberships, such as special operations personnel in the Australian Defence Force. To be eligible, your job would have to depend on you maintaining a very high level of fitness, for which you are regularly tested.
Myth: I can claim all my travel expenses if I add a conference or a few days’ work to my holiday.
Fact: If you decide to add a conference or some work to your holiday, or a holiday to your work trip, you must apportion the travel expenses between the private and work-related components, and only claim the work-related component.
Myth: I can claim my work clothes because my boss told me to wear a certain colour.
Fact: Unless your clothing is a uniform that is unique and distinct to your employer, or protective or occupation-specific clothing you are required to wear to earn your income, you won’t be able to claim it. Plain clothes, like black pants, are not deductible even if your employer told you to wear them.
Myth: I can claim my pay television subscription because I need to keep up to date for work.
Fact: A subscription to pay television is not ordinarily deductible. Keeping up to date on news, current affairs and other general matters usually will not have a sufficiently close connection with your employment activities to provide a basis for deducting these subscriptions. They are essentially private expenses.
Myth: I can claim home to work travel because I need to get to work to earn my income.
Fact: For most of us, home to work travel is a private expense.
Myth: I’ve got a capped phone and internet plan, so I can claim both business and private phone calls and internet usage.
Fact: Unless you only use your phone and internet for work, you have to apportion the cost between work-related and private usage and only claim the work-related portion of your expenses.