It’s that time of year we dread again, tax time! Filling in our tax returns is one of those chores that comes around every year and it always seems to take up a lot of our time and certainly tests our patience. But never fear, we’re here to help with our teacher tax tips!
For the most part, there is not much you need to have organised before lodging your tax return these days. In most instances, your income statement, health insurance statement, share statements and any other income are all pre-filled into your tax return by the Australian Tax Office (ATO). However, it doesn’t hurt to have these documents on hand when you are completing your tax return to verify the pre-filled information.
One of the main documents you’ll need to have organised for your tax return is receipts for any work-related purchases you have made throughout the past financial year. These will come in handy when you get to the deductions section of your tax return. It’s a good idea to collect these receipts throughout the financial year as you make your purchases. As you collect them, place them in a safe location such as in a box or in an envelope.
Alternatively, if you prefer to keep digital documents and receipts, you could use an app to keep track of your receipts. One of these apps is Evernote. It keeps digital copies of all your important documents safely stored and syncs them across your devices, making the tax return process even more simple and stress-free.
Give yourself plenty of time
Completing a tax return can be a time consuming job. While you may feel organised, prepared and motivated to lodge your return in a prompt manner, you’re bound to come across an issue, mistake or a question that simply stumps you. For this reason, don’t try to complete your tax return in a rush. Allow yourself a couple of hours to finish the return so you can work through it methodically and calmly. By doing this, you may find you’re in a better headspace to work through the tax return and you may even find you complete it quicker than expected!
Know your deductions
Deductions can be made on your tax return to help you recoup some of the work-related costs you may have incurred throughout the year which will reduce your taxable income. There are a number of deductions that teachers can claim including:
- Items purchased for your classroom: this can include stationery, sunscreen and any books or resources you may have purchased with your own money. This includes products you have purchased from Teacher PD in the past financial year.
- Self-education costs: any professional development courses you may have attended or participated in online, including Teacher PD courses, can be claimed as a deduction if you paid for them yourself.
- Car expenses: some expenses you have incurred as a result of driving for employment purposes can be claimed as a deduction. There are some rules for this though, you cannot claim the cost of travelling to and from work and home. However, if you were to travel from school to a sports carnival, for example, this cost can be claimed. You can also claim car deductions if you have a second job and travel directly there from school. For example, if you tutor after school and need to travel directly from school to the tutoring venue, this can be claimed as a deduction.
- Home office expenses: if you have taught in an online learning setting as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in the past financial year, you can claim home office expenses as a deduction. You are able to claim a portion of your electricity, internet and phone bills when lodging your tax return. You can also claim any purchases you may have made for your home office, such as a printer, if it relates directly to teaching.
- Laundry: you can claim deductions for some of your laundry expenses if your school has a uniform. Just remember to clarify whether your uniform is compulsory or non-compulsory when lodging your return.
Don’t miss the deadline
This is one of the more important teacher tax tips. It’s easy to forget about lodging your tax return when you’ve got so much time to complete it, however, you may cop a hefty penalty if you fail to lodge by the due date. This year, you need to have your tax return in by the 1st of November 2021, otherwise you will be contacted by the ATO. If your tax agent is completing your return for you this year, you’ll need to get in touch with them by the 31st of October.
We hope these teacher tax tips will make lodging your tax return a little simpler and stress-free this year!
Disclaimer: This material has been prepared for informational purposes only and should not be relied on for tax, legal or accounting advice. We recommend you speak with your tax adviser or accountant.