The end of the financial year is rapidly approaching, and so is the time to lodge your tax return for 2019-2020.
You are probably already aware that there are some specific work-related expenses you can claim as a lawyer. But are you sure you are claiming everything you are entitled to in order to - hopefully - receive some cash back?
For example, did you know the ATO has simplified the way you can claim working from home expenses to help those working remotely during COVID-19? Ahead of the June 30 deadline, we have listed some other things you may not know you can - or can’t - claim for this financial year.
Please note, this article is general advice only based on the ATO deduction guide.
1. Unfortunately, you can’t claim your Chanel bag or Armani Suit
However, you can claim the cost of a briefcase (or large handbag) if it was purchased for work purposes and used to carry items such as your work laptop and work-related paperwork.
Likewise, although general business attire is not claimable, court attire such as robes and wigs are. This is because they are considered to be occupation specific and compulsory to wear in many jurisdictions. In addition to these purchases, you can also claim cleaning, hire, repair and replacement costs for these garments.
2. You can claim your annual practising certificate
You should have recently renewed your practising certificate, or might even have recently been admitted to practice (congratulations!). Although admission fees are not claimable, you can claim a deduction for the cost of renewing your annual practising certificate. Considering the costs of renewal exceed $1,000 in many jurisdictions, this is a cost well worth claiming.
3. You can’t claim your golf membership, even if you only reached the green to network
Under the ATO rules, club membership or sponsorship fees cannot be claimed, even if the main purpose of the membership is business development. Similarly, you cannot claim the cost of entertainment, such as business lunches and attendance at sporting events, gala or social nights. Whether your attendance was made compulsory by your employer or not, these events are considered private and thus not claimable.
4. You can claim your mandatory professional development expenses
If you attended legal CPD seminars, conferences or completed online training in order to meet your continuing professional development requirements, you can claim the associated fees. LawCPD’s interactive online courses fall under the training courses deduction category, which means they can be claimable at tax time.
As with all expenses, you must keep records of all costs claimed in your annual tax returns. If you have completed online courses with LawCPD since last July, you can log in to your account to find all your invoices.
5. You can’t claim your Netflix subscription, but you can claim working-from-home expenses
If you have been working from home during COVID-19, then we have good news for you! The ATO has introduced a simplified method for calculating working from home expenses. This method gives you a deduction of $0.80 for every hour worked remotely from 1 March until 30 June 2020. For more information on this simplified method, check out this ATO guide. You can also find information about claiming work from home expenses prior to 1 March such as phone and internet expenses, heating, cooling, lighting and other occupancy expenses in the ATO home office guide.
Editor's note: This article was originally published in June 2019 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
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