As a police officer, you keep the public safe every day and make sure society runs smoothly – but who's looking out for you when it comes to tax time? We know obeying the law is important, and there are lots of legal and legitimate deductions you could be claiming on your annual tax return that you probably don't even know about.
Working with a qualified tax consultant, such as one of our expert tax agents here at H&R Block, is a really good starting point. We can make sure you know all the deductions that are relevant to your job in the police force and ultimately help you get the biggest possible refund.
When you're ready to complete your return, 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 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 straight into your tax return and we can then help you to work out your deductions.
Can I claim any deductions?
In a word: yes! You are eligible to claim deductions on any money spent during the financial year on products or services that directly related to earning your job. You need to have spent the money yourself (it can't have been reimbursed by your employer) and 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 police officer, such as:
- The cost of buying, repairing and cleaning any clothing items that are part of your official uniform or feature a distinctive police logo and design; Plain, everyday clothing can also be claimed when it is being worn for specific work reasons (such as an undercover operation)
- Any work specific tools or equipment, such as bulletproof jackets and vests, gauntlets, holsters, handgrips, handcuffs, holders, pouches, utility belts or body armour, that are needed for your job and not supplied by your employer
- Car expenses if you need to drive for work related reasons such as visiting a crime scene, or attending a work meeting at a different police station and a fleet car is not available, or if you need to drive between different jobs during your work day (for example, from your day job as a police officer to your second job as a security officer)
- Police informant expenses that are fully authorised but have not been reimbursed by your employer
- Phone and internet costs for your own phone or device if you need to use it for work purposes and you're not given a phone by your employer or reimbursed for the costs (records must be kept for claims over $50)
- Any renewal fees for licences and certificates that relate to your employment duties, such as getting a 'working with children' check
- Self education costs for attending any courses, training or seminars specifically related to your current line of work (such as a defensive driving course or attending a conference focused on special weapons and tactical operations training)
- 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
- Physical training and fitness expenses required to train you above the usual standard level for work in special emergency squads or diving squads, or as a police academy physical training instructors
- Any costs incurred in maintaining and training police dogs
- Any expenses related to buying protective items such as sunglasses or anti-glare glasses, sunhats and sunscreen
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 a tracksuit, exercise clothing, running shs or a plain shirt) unless it is being used for official work duties such as an undercover operation
- Club membership fees of any kind, with the exception of Federal Police pistol clubs
- Costs relating to general physical training and fitness (such as fitness courses, gym memberships and other health-related items) to maintain a basic level of physical fitness
- The cost of getting or renewing your driver's licence, even if you have to have it as a condition of your employment
- 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
What records do I need to keep?
Pristine 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?
This can happen to anyone and dealing with it as soon as possible is always the best approach. It's really important 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.
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