How COVID-19 will affect your tax claims
TAX time is around the corner and the COVID-19 pandemic means this year's return will look a little different.
Whether you take your group certificate to an accountant or do your own tax return, Gladstone accountant Allison Totorica says there are more things you can claim in the 2019-20 financial year for people working from home.
The proprietor of CQ Taxation Services, Mrs Totorica said the ATO had introduced a new temporary simplified method of claiming a deduction for the additional running expenses incurred in working from home between March 1 and June 30.
She said the government had introduced this broad-ranging claim to also include asset depreciation.
"Taxpayers can claim 80 cents per hour for expenses such as electricity, decline in value of their computer/laptop, phone and internet costs," she said.
"Unlike the fixed-rate method, taxpayers can use this claim even where they do not have a dedicated room in the home set aside for work."
For people who have a dedicated home office, Mrs Totorica said they could choose either to claim 80 cents per hour, or 52 cents per hour, then do an additional claim for asset depreciation.
"Taxpayers can use the fixed-rate method to claim 52 cents per hour when working from home, provided they have a separate area in their home for work," she said.
"They can also claim the work-related portion of their telephone and internet costs, stationery and decline in the value of their computer or laptop."
ATO Assistant Commissioner Karen Foat said the new shortcut method would make it easier for those who are working from home for the first time.
"The shortcut method provides a rate of 80 cents per hour and will only require you to keep a record of the number of hours worked from home," she said.
"This recognises that many taxpayers are working from home for the first time and makes claiming a deduction much easier.
"If you choose to use this shortcut method, all you need to do is keep a record of the hours you worked from home as evidence of your claim."
For people who were eligible, Mrs Totorica said the government's $750 COVID-19 payment was tax-free.
"The government provided a tax-free $750 economic support payment to eligible Centrelink recipients in April 2020 and is expected to provide the second payment on July 10," she said.
"In addition, the government has provided eligible recipients the coronavirus supplement of $550 a fortnight for up to six months.
"It is important for people to know the coronavirus supplement payment is taxable and must be declared in their tax return."
Before going to your accountant, Mrs Totorica said people should ensure they have all receipts for work-related expenses, including your phone bills if you don't work from home but use your phone for work.
With most employers on the single touch payroll system, most people's accountants will receive their group certificates electronically in early July.
"Those employers that still issue payment summaries to workers have until July 14 to send them to the employee," Mrs Totorica said.