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Teacher Tax Return and Deduction Checklist

9 min read

You do an amazing job all year round educating and shaping the minds of the younger generations. So we don’t blame you if the last thing you feel like doing at the end of each financial year is your taxes. But it’s definitely worth doing it right because missing out on some of the deductions for which you qualify means getting less than you deserve in your tax refund.

All of the expert tax consultants at H&R Block have studied hard and are well aware of all of the deductions you should be looking for when you’re completing your return. Think of us as your personal tutors when it comes to taxes. We’re here to support you and to help make the whole process as easy and stress-free as possible.

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. You won’t need to have an actual 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: 

  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 teacher, such as: 

  • Car expenses, including parking fees and tolls, if you travel between different jobs on the same day (for example from your job teaching at a high school to a second job tutoring at a coaching college) or are transporting heavy or bulky items required for your work (such as a cello for a music teacher or a heavy set of books needed for classes that can’t be left securely at work)
  • The cost of buying books and journals that are mainly being used for work purposes and doesn’t cost more than $300 (in which case, you can claim depreciation)
  • Any expenses connected to buying, repairing and cleaning any work clothing items that are distinctive to your school or organisation (such as a t-shirt with a school logo on it worn by members of a sports department) or that have protective benefits (such as protective glasses or shoes for a woodworking teacher, or sunscreen, sunglasses and sunhat for a teacher doing lunchtime yard duty)
  • Any expenses related to buying equipment, teaching aids, journals or tools specifically required for your work, such as textbooks
  • Any costs incurred when taking students on educational excursions, camps and sporting trips
  • Self education costs for attending any courses, training or seminars specifically related to your current line of work (such as a course on working with children with special needs)
  • The cost of any items gifted to students, such as buying them lunch or a birthday card
  • 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
  • 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
  • Any union and professional association fees
  • Phone and internet expenses for any work-related usage on your personal phone or device, provided they are not already covered by your employer
  • Working from home office expenses such as heating or cooling, and repairs to equipment
  • Travel expenses such as accommodation and meals if you travel for work and need to stay away from home overnight (for example, if you attend a teacher training course for three days in a different state) and pay these expenses yourself

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
  • 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
  • Fitness expenses, such as a gym membership, even if you’re a physical education teacher
  • Any costs related to attending staff dinners or other social functions
  • 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? 

Good quality 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? 

We know this can accidentally 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.

 

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