At the start of every new financial year, I tell myself I’m going to be better at organising my receipts and seamlessly lodging my tax return. And every year my accountant turns around and says; “You know you could have claimed that if you had a receipt” and “Did you need a new pair?”, pointing towards my worn-out nursing shoes. We have a few weeks before June 30th where we can not only get organised for the accountant but also have an excuse to spend some money on items related directly to VNS agency work. This post explores the numerous items you could consider purchasing or at least discussing with your account that may form part of your 2020 / 2021 tax return.
As a quick introduction, according to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), in order to claim a deduction for a work-related expenses the following points must be met;
● You must have spent the money yourself and weren’t reimbursed
● You cannot have claimed the item already using a salary packing company linked to your place of employment
● It must be directly related to earning your income
● You must have a record to prove it as you can only claim the work-related part of expenses. You can’t claim a deduction for any part of the expense that relates to personal use.
Have you attended a course, seminar, conference and/or training course in the last year which relates directly to your job as a registered or enrolled nurse or midwife? Think of a wound care conference, care of the older person or advanced life support etc. This form of self-education which you paid for can be claimed as a deduction.
It’s important to note though, you cannot claim a deduction if your study is only related in a general way or is designed to help get you a new job. A relevant example for us is; you can’t claim the cost of study to enable you to move from being a carer to being a registered nurse.
As a VNS nurse and/or midwife, it is heavily encouraged you wear a specific shirt, with a logo, when on shift. This is tax-deductible because it’s unique and distinctive to your job. If you work another healthcare job where your employer only requires you to wear a plain uniform without a logo, such as a white shirt and black pants, you cannot claim this (even if you only wear it for work).
If your uniform needs mending or cleaning and is distinctive to your job, that’s a valid deduction. So too is the hiring of a uniform that is unique to your job.
In regards to footwear, if it’s necessary to protect yourself from the risk of illness or injury, such as non-slip nursing shoes or support stockings, it’s tax-deductible. Just remember to keep evidence of your purchases.
For nurses and/or midwives in Australia, it’s almost time to pay your annual registration renewal. But the best part is, it’s tax detectable after your first year of nursing.
The same goes for any fees you pay to a professional membership body directly linked to your area of work such as the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF).
Are you required to drive your own car in order to fulfil your job? If yes, chat to your account about what you can claim as the water is a little murky here.
Keeping a logbook to determine the work-related percentage, or be able to demonstrate a reasonable calculation if you use the cents per kilometre method to claim is important.
As a general guide, according to the ATO you can claim a deduction related to car expenses when you:
● Drive between separate jobs on the same day – eg. travelling from your job as a carer to a second job as a teacher
● Drive to and from an alternate workplace for the same employer on the same day – eg. driving from your usual clinic to another clinic to work for the same employer.
● You may be able to claim the cost of trips between home and work, such as where you carry bulky tools or equipment for work.
Phone and internet
Have you been working from home in the last year, used your phone for work or your personal internet provider to complete your job? The work-related portion of the use of your personal device or internet service is claimable.
Watches and Timepieces
How do you keep track of the time or count your patient's respiration rate whilst on shift? If you use a fob watch or another kind of wristwatch which has special characteristics essential to carrying out your job, you may be able to claim the cost of these items. This includes the replacement of batteries, repairs and watchbands.
For smartwatch wearers, this is a private expense and not deductible under ordinary circumstances unless you require some of the smart watch's functions as an essential part of your employment activities. The ATO requires you to keep a record for the period of time you used it for work vs leisure.
Stationary, Tools and Equipment
According to the ATO, “as long as the expense relates to your employment, you can claim a deduction for the work-related portion of the cost of stationary”.
In regards to tools and equipment such as a stethoscope, nurses' pouch, safety glasses, measuring tape, surgical scissors and artery forceps, you can claim a deduction for these items as you use them to perform your duties as a nurse or midwife. You can also claim a deduction for the cost of repairs to tools and equipment that you use for work purposes. The discussion of these items becomes a little more complicated when it exceeds $300 so it’s best to talk to your account regarding more expensive pieces of equipment.
Other Claimable Deductions for Nurses and Midwives:
● Overtime meal expenses
● Briefcase or work bag
● First aid courses
● Journal, books, periodicals and magazine subscriptions
● Laundry and Maintenance
● Potential allowances for work that may be unpleasant, special or dangerous
● Protective glasses include anti-glare or photochromatic glasses
● Home office expenses
● Some travel expenses
In summary, if you are spending your hard-earned cash on anything related to your job as an agency nurse, it’s worth asking the question to your accountant, can I claim this? Take the time now to look back in your emails, the dark corners of your car, handbag or wallet and find recipes or proof of payment for work-related items you may have bought over the last 12 months.
I hope this year's tax returns is as fruitful as ever.
If you’re looking for more information about what you can and cannot claim and where to upload receipts, the best place to look is the ATO’s website. Here is the link to the nurses and midwives - income and work-related deductions page.
If you are looking to become an Agency Nurse in the new financial year, register with us today!