A guide to unusual deductions the tax office will approve

As the end of the financial year approaches and we all scramble for the paperwork, maybe there are a few deductions you haven’t thought about?

Business expenses? Everyone claims those. Charity donations? Of course they are claimed. Dogs? Sex toys? Well, now I have your attention.

Fifi the fluffy white dog you perch on your lap while you have another latte is not tax deductible, but Fido the bullmastiff guarding your premises is, and the same goes for working farm dogs.

According to H&R Block, it’s regarded as a capital asset of the business and you can claim an immediate deduction for the whole costs using the very generous instant asset write-off for small businesses.

Read: What the ATO is looking for at tax time this year

The Australian reported that a business tried to claim a pug who was responsible for ‘welcoming customers’. Claim denied.

All sorts of trades claim deductions for the tools they use:  chefs can claim knives, builders can claim hammers. The Australian Tax Office (ATO) will approve all these claims.

Well, if you work in the sex industry, apparently the same rules apply. It may be necessary to consult with a tax agent to check what sort of other ‘accessories’ can also be claimed. Of course, anything used in your personal life does not apply.

If you work in the arts, your ‘performance tools’ are also deductible. Costumes, lessons, that gold-plated tuba you have always wanted, a whacky clown costume including the red nose, live bunnies for magic tricks, all can be claimed. Once again, what you do in your personal life cannot be claimed.

Everyday clothing, even if you wear it on stage or in front of a television, cannot be claimed.

Read: How to prepare for tax time

If you offer your employees stress distractions such as a table tennis table, gaming consoles or television, all can be claimed. It’s a win-win, you look like the good guy to your staff essentially for free and they get to improve their hand-eye coordination.

This one doesn’t seem so strange when you think about it, but more people probably need to know, you can claim sunscreen and protective clothing if you work outside. All those sweaty, hi-vis vests and tops and the monster pump pack of 50+ blockout at your worksite? The ATO needs to know about them. And while the jury is out on the humble garden gnome’s aesthetic appeal, you might be able to claim on them, but only if it’s at a rental property.

Read: Super ‘rort’ is costing taxpayers and the helping the wealthy

You can claim your mortgage interest, rates, repairs and improvements on a rental property but also anything that improves the ‘street appeal’. According to moneymag.com.au, several landlords have successfully claimed garden ornamentation in regard to their property.

Let’s go shopping! Handbags can be claimed! Well, sort of. It must be fit for work purposes, for example a laptop satchel or briefcase, so sneaking the latest Italian red leather baguette past the tax office is going to be unlikely.

If your job requires a certain level of fitness, gym memberships may also be claimed. We’re not talking about the postie who enjoys a brisk stroll around the neighbourhood, but perhaps elite defence force personnel or gym instructors themselves.

What’s not deductible?

There’s a great shift towards working from home at the moment and while some tax deductions are available in that situation such as stationery and electronic devices, unfortunately toilet paper and coffee – while essential to a good day at home – are not.

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Written by Jan Fisher

Accomplished journalist, feature writer and sub-editor with impressive knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income, issues that affect Australians planning and living in retirement, and answering YLC members' Age Pension and Centrelink questions. She has also developed a passion for travel and lifestyle writing and is fast becoming a supermarket savings 'guru'.

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