The following tips may help you to legitimately reduce your tax liability in your 2016-17 return. Claiming all work-related deduction entitlements may save considerable tax. Typical work-related expenses include employment-related telephone, mobile phone, internet usage, computer repairs, union fees and professional subscriptions. Claim only what you are legally entitled to and be sure to have all necessary receipts or credit card statements to support them as the ATO may check claims.

Home Office
When part of your home has been set aside primarily or exclusively for the purpose of work, a home office deduction may be allowable. Typical home office costs include heating, cooling, lighting and even office equipment depreciation. To claim the deduction, you must have kept a diary of the hours you worked at home for at least four weeks.

Self-education expenses can be claimed provided the study is directly related to either maintaining or improving current occupational skills or is likely to increase income from your current employment. If you obtain new qualifications in a different field through study, the expenses incurred are not tax deductible. Typical self-education expenses include course fees, textbooks, stationery, student union fees and the depreciation of assets such as computers, tablets and printers. 

Assets & Depreciation
Immediate deductions can be claimed for assets that cost under $300 to the extent the asset is used to generate income. Such assets may include tools for tradespeople, calculators, briefcases, computer equipment and technical books purchased by an employee. Assets costing $300 or more that are used for an income producing purpose can be written off over a period of time as a tax deduction

Motor Vehicles & Travel
If you use your motor vehicle for work-related travel, there are only two choices for claiming:
1. If the annual travel claim does not exceed 5000 kilometres, you can claim a deduction for your vehicle expenses on the cents-per-kilometre basis. Such claims must be based on reasonable estimates and actual kilometres travelled for work purposes only.
2. If your business travel exceeds 5000 kilometres, the log book method is required to claim a deduction for all car-running expenses against your business usage percentage.

Please note recent cases highlight the ATO’s continued focus on travel expense claims. This is clearly an area of concentration at the moment. It is important to consider whether there is actually a sufficient connection between travel expenses and income earning activities, as well as ensuring sufficient documentation is maintained to support your claims.

Rental Properties
Owners of rental properties that are rented or are ready and available for rent can claim immediate deductions for a range of expenses, such as: 
• interest on investment loans
• land tax 
• council and water rates
• body corporate charges
• insurance 
• repairs and maintenance
• agents’ commission
• gardening
• pest control
• leases (preparation, registration and stamp duty)
• advertising for tenants

It’s worth noting that the government has changed the law to no longer allow travel deductions relating to inspecting, maintaining, or collecting rent for a rental property from 1 July 2017. Further, the government announced that from 1 July 2017 plant and equipment depreciation deductions will be limited to outlays actually incurred by investors in residential real estate properties. Plant and equipment forming part of residential investment properties as of 9 May 2017 will continue to give rise to deductions for depreciation until either the investor no longer owns the asset, or the asset reaches the end of its effective life.


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