How to make the most of tax deductions

Nearly everyone can claim tax deductions at tax time. Are you getting everything you're entitled too?

I'm well aware that this is a sad confession to make, but I love tax time.

Most years I turn to a friendly tax agent, who smiles in a bemused fashion as I claim everything from flights to Cuba to house-sitting registration fees (all story fodder!).

If it's a good return, I'll gleefully skip out of the appointment, mentally spending the money before the tax office has even refunded it.

Admittedly my work-related expenses are a little higher than average because I'm self-employed, but nearly everyone can claim tax deductions.

The deadline to file your own tax return is usually October 31.

You can get an extension by calling the tax office on 13 28 61 or filing through a tax agent.

Or you can spend the next day or two going through your receipts and filling out the paperwork. Maybe you can get a kick out of tax time too.

Mark Chapman, tax specialist at H&R Block, says you can generally claim on any purchases you've made that are related to your job.

If you're a tradie, that might mean safety clothing. Those in hospitality or nursing, for example, can deduct the cost of uniforms.

Then there are travel costs. If you need your own car to visit clients or customers, that's tax deductible. However, the cost of getting from your house to work (say the office or factory) is not.

Chapman says union fees, professional subscriptions and the cost of running a home office are all other potential tax claims, as is your mobile phone, laptop or tablet if you use it for work.

"If you go on a course or if you undertake some form of study which is linked to your job, that's tax deductible as well," Chapman says.

"People who work in the acting profession claim dancing lessons, acting classes."

Don't forget, you can make a claim only if you keep the receipt, either by hard copy or electronically (don't forget to back it up).

Plenty of apps, such as the ATO's myDeductions, or Shoeboxed can help you keep track.

This article was originally published on the Sydney Morning Herald on 30 October 2015. This article represents the views of the author only and does not necessarily reflect the views of AMP.

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