National

End of financial year: How to recoup your working costs and bump up your tax return

End of financial year: How to recoup your working costs and bump up your tax return
Australians have just a matter of hours before the 2019/2020 financial year ends – prompting many to lash Google with a thousand tax-related questions.
The good news is, just because the financial year ends today it doesn't mean you have to have your tax affairs in order already.
The bad news is that it's now time to start putting together a list of your deductions.
Here's some of the top burning questions about tax time this year, answered as simply as possible:
READ MORE: How to get your tax refund back in less than two weeks
A hotline has been established for Australians who suspect someone else of illegal tax activity. (9News)

How do I find my tax file number?

All tax starts with a tax file number, and it's not something most people would know by memory.
In some ways a tax file number (or TFN) is how the government knows you.
Even if you changed your name, moved overseas or changed jobs, your TFN stays the same.
There are several ways you can find it:
  • If you've filed a tax return before, look at your income tax notice of assessment. You can find this in your myGov account.
  • Look for a payment summary from your employer
  • Search your email inbox for a statement from your superannuation
  • Ask your tax agent
If you don't have a TFN, you can apply for one here.
If you're pretty sure you have one – but can't find it – give the tax office a ring on 13 28 61 (being a government department you'll want to ring in business hours Monday to Friday).
The final deadline for self-submitted tax returns is October 31, so get in quick. (ATO)

What's up with all of these EOFY sales? Why are people buying stuff now?

Here's the deal: the government will deduct certain costs from the amount of tax you pay on your income if you needed them to fulfil your duties.
It's called a "tax deduction" and most of them directly relate to earning your income (like a desk for a home office worker or a pipe wrench for a plumber).
To claim a work-related deduction you must have paid for it yourself, it must relate to earning your income and you must have a record to prove it.
The three golden rules for claiming a deduction. (Graphic: Tara Blancato)
Knowing this, many retailers that specialise in popular work deductions – like computer supplies and tools – will have huge EOFY sales to tempt customers into buying equipment that they can almost instantly claim on tax.
You still have to pay for the items, but EOFY sales rewards the monkey side of our brains but telling us we'll have that cash back in hand sooner rather than later.

I had to buy my own hand sanitiser and masks to deal with customers this year, can I claim the cost of those?

You actually can.
Speaking broadly, most employers who required customer interaction should've supplied these – meaning you can't claim them – but if you had to buy them yourself then yes, you can claim them this year.
Remember, you can't have been reimbursed for them and your occupation should reasonably require physical contact or proximity to customers and clients for the deduction to be valid.
Retail workers were advised to use handwash and soap, not gloves. (9News)

How do I calculate my working from home costs in the wake of COVID-19?

Working from home costs can be done simply and quickly, or can be exhaustingly precise and take hours the first time.
Here's your ultimate guide to the easy way, and well if you're really interested in drilling down to the nuts and bolts of energy expenditure it's best to ask a registered tax agent.
The tax office is checking up on Australians who have fraudulently claimed JobKeeper assistance. (9News)

Is it too late to take my tax to an accountant?

No. If you're using a registered tax agent they can lodge your return well after the normal deadline.
In general, it's best to contact your agent before October 31 to start the process.

What date do I have to lodge my tax by?

If you are doing your own tax online, you'll need to lodge it by October 31, 2020.

I received/am receiving JobKeeper – how do I report it on my tax return?

Thankfully, your JobKeeper payments will be treated the same as your wage, and will be included on your income statement that your employer provides to the ATO.
Based on that, most people won't need to do anything regarding their JobKeeper payments until the ATO has received that information from their employer.
For most, that happens by the end of July.
If you're a sole trader – for example a self-employed painter – you'll need to include your JobKeeper payments as business income, the same way you would a painting job.

I did really well this year working for apps like Uber and Airbnb. Do I have to report that money?

Yes, you do.
According to the ATO, it's very clear: "Income you earn from the sharing economy is assessable and needs to be reported in your tax return."
The ATO also has a tonne of reading material around the intracies of taxing sharing economy income, which you can read here.

MORE IN 9NEWS.COM.AU's TAX SERIES:

  • EXPLAINED: How to calculate your working at home costs for a maximised tax return
  • How to get your tax refund back in less than two weeks
  • The top five mistakes people make on their tax returns
  • What is the ATO's "shortcut method" and how much can I claim?
  • Which workers can claim facemasks, hand sanitiser on tax
For breaking news alerts and livestreams straight to your smartphone sign up to the9News appand set notifications to on at theApp StoreorGoogle Play.
You can also get up-to-date information from the Federal Government's Coronavirus Australia app, available on theApp Store,Google Playand theGovernment's WhatsApp channel.
The information provided on this website is general in nature only and does not constitute personal financial advice. The information has been prepared without taking into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on any information on this website you should consider the appropriateness of the information having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs.