If you dread the end of the financial year, you’re not alone! But trust us when we say that the annual tax season is actually a big opportunity for you to get back some of your hard-earned money. As an adult industry worker, there are actually a huge number of legitimate deductions that you can and should be claiming in your tax return each year – and these deductions will help you get a bigger refund at the end of the year.
We’ve put together a checklist below to help you get started, but there’s no doubt that the best approach is to get some expert help. Experienced tax consultants, such as the amazing team here at H&R Block, will be able to help you check over your return and make sure you haven’t missed out on any opportunities.
To complete your return as an adult industry worker employed by a company, you’ll first need an income statement from your employer (previously called a “payment summary” or “group certificate”). This is a summary that outlines all your salary, wages, allowances and bonuses for the financial year.
You won’t need to have a copy of this statement, as it should be lodged by your employer directly to the ATO. Once this has been lodged, we can download the information for you and then help you work out your deductions.
What do I need to know about claiming deductions?
As you know, you’re entitled to claim deductions on any money spent during the financial year on products or services that directly related to earning an income. But there are two things you need to remember:
- First, you need to have spent the money yourself (it can’t have been reimbursed by your employer), and
- Secondly, you need to keep a record of the expense such as a receipt or invoice.
What deductions can I claim?
There is a wide range of deductions you can claim as an adult industry worker, such as:
- Car expenses, including parking costs and tolls, if you travel between different jobs on the same day (for example from your main job at an adult entertainment bar to a second job working as a dance teacher) or to different locations for your work (for example if you need to travel from client to client)
- Commissions paid to an agency, plus any union or professional association fees
- Any costs connected to advertising your services in the adult industry
- Any expenses connect to buying, repairing and cleaning any work clothing items that are either part of a uniform or distinctive to your job (such as a t-shirt with a company logo on it or a job-specific costume)
- The cost of purchasing any consumable items you use solely for earning your income as an employee in the adult industry, including condoms, lubricants, gels, oils and tissues
- Any expenses connected to purchasing stage make up, hairdressing products or make up remover specifically designed to remove stage make up
- Multimedia expenses directly related to your work, such as downloading music files or tapes that will be used for rehearsals
- Any meals you buy and eat when you work overtime, but only if you get an overtime meal allowance under an industrial law, award or enterprise agreement and it's included in your assessable income
- Phone and internet expenses for any work-related usage on your personal phone or device, provided they are not already covered by your employer
- Costs connected to maintaining a photographic portfolio for publicity purposes, but not the original cost of creating the portfolio
- Self education costs for attending any courses, training or seminars specifically related to your current line of work, such as a masterclass in advanced pole dancing techniques or entry to an industry event such as Sexpo
- Journals, periodicals and magazines that are specifically related to your job as an adult industry worker
- Any expenses related to buying and insuring equipment or tools specifically required for your work, such as fetish equipment, adult novelties and vibrators
- Travel expenses such as accommodation and meals if you travel for work and need to stay away from home overnight (for example, if you are performing a show in another city for one or more nights) and pay these expenses yourself
- The cost of a first aid training course if you’re a designated first aid person in your workplace and need to do first aid training to assist in emergency work situations
What can’t I claim?
There are several key expenses you can’t claim, including:
- Any upfront fees, joining fees or search fees paid to an agency
- Any costs connected to preparing for or attending auditions (these are connected to the process of getting work, rather than doing work)
- Any regular clothing worn to your workplace that could also be worn outside of work (such as jeans, high heels or a white t-shirt) or any fitness clothing even if you only wear it for work and bought it specifically to wear to work
- Any expenses connected to childcare while you are working
- Self education costs for attending any courses, training or seminars designed to help you to get work in a new area, for example if you are working as an exotic dancer but are taking singing lessons in your spare time to pursue a new career
- The cost of any meals or snacks consumed during the course of a normal work day, even if you are given an allowance by your employer to cover the meal expense
- The cost of any entertainment, including attendance at award nights, gala or social nights, concerts or other similar types of functions or events, even if there's an entertainment industry connection
- Any costs incurred for general health and fitness, such as gym memberships, weight loss programs, food substitutes or vitamin supplements unless your job requires an unusually high level of fitness (such as a pole dancer)
- Any grooming costs, including general hairdressing, cosmetics, hair and skin care products, that are not directly related to your job but are just generally for the purpose of being well presented
- Any costs incurred when travelling between your home and your workplace, even if you live a long distance away
What records do I need to keep?
Record-keeping might seem a bit boring and tedious, but it’s really important at tax time, so you need to stay on top of your receipts and have a comprehensive set of records if you want to get a good tax refund. It’s a smart idea to create an easy and reliable system to help you keep on top of this throughout the year.
Remember, you don’t need to keep physical receipts, and it’s acceptable to keep a digital copy (such as a photo of a receipt or an email receipt) provided it is possible to read:
- The name of the supplier
- Amount of the expense
- Nature of the goods or services
- Date the expense was paid
- Date of the document
You also don’t need to keep receipts for expenses under $10 (as long as these don’t cumulatively come to more than $200).
What happens if I make a mistake in my tax return?
First of all, don’t panic. This can happen to anyone and strongly recommend dealing with it as soon as possible. This is always the best approach. It’s essential that you take great care in putting together the information and supporting documentation when filing your tax return, and only claim deductions that are genuine to avoid penalties and possibly even prosecution from the ATO.
It’s easy to make an innocent mistakes sometimes, and if you lodge yourself and realise you’ve submitted incorrect or unsubstantiated claims then you should contact H&R Block immediately and we will assist you in making the necessary amendments.
Still have some questions about lodging your tax return? Talk to H&R Block. Our experienced tax consultants will be able to help. Call 13 23 25 for details or find your nearest office and book an appointment online.