Hospitality Worker Tax Return and Deduction Checklist

7 min read

You work hard all year long either serving customers up front in a café, bar or restaurant or rattling the pans back in the kitchen, and the last thing you feel like doing each July is sorting through your taxes. But we have news for you – getting to do your tax return is actually a reason to celebrate. Yes, really!

Tax time is a great opportunity to get back some of your hard-earned money, if you know the right deductions to look for based on your job in hospitality, whether you’re a server, bartender, chef, caterer or kitchen-hand.

There are so many legitimate deductions that people in the hospitality industry miss out on every year, which means money is being left on the table for no reason. The best way to make sure you get every possible benefit is to work with an experienced tax agent. Our amazing consultants here at H&R Block have detailed knowledge of the Aussie tax system and will help you get the biggest possible refund.

To complete your return, you’ll need an income statement from your employer (previously called a “payment summary” or “group certificate”). This is a summary that outlines all of your salary, wages, allowances and bonuses for the financial year. 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 your job. But there are two things you need to remember: 

  1. First, you need to have spent the money yourself (it can’t have been reimbursed by your employer), and
  2. 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 a hospitality worker, such as: 

  • Car expenses if you travel between different jobs on the same day (for example from your job in a restaurant to a second job working in retail or a catering gig)
  • The cost of renewing your special employees or gaming licence (but not the initial cost of getting the licence)
  • Any expenses connect to buying, repairing and cleaning any work clothing items that are distinctive to your company (such as a t-shirt with a logo on it or a branded apron) or that have protective benefits (like a face mask, hair net or gloves)
  • Footwear that protects you from the risk of illness or injury at work such as  protective boots or non-slip shoes
  • Any expenses related to buying equipment or tools specifically required for your work, such as catering trays
  • Self education costs for attending any courses, training or seminars specifically related to your current line of work (such as a wine appreciation workshop)
  • The cost of a first aid training course if you’re a designated first aid person 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 regular clothing worn to your workplace that could also be worn outside of work (such as black pants or a white shirt) even if you only wear it for work and bought it specifically to wear to work
  • Childcare costs incurred while you’re working
  • 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
  • Any grooming costs, including hairdressing services and buying items of make up, even if it’s a requirement of your job to be well presented
  • Any costs incurred when travelling between your home and your workplace, even if you live a long distance away
  • Costs of eating and drinking at competitor venues for the purposes of ‘market research’

What records do I need to keep? 

Rock solid records are really important at tax time, so you need to stay on top of your receipts and have a comprehensive set receipts 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? 

It’s okay, we know 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 self-lodge 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.




Tax Time Checklist
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