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Aussie workers entitled to claim facemasks, hand sanitiser as tax deductions

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

The Australian Tax Office today said it would accept the deductions as long as workers paid for the items themselves.

Some Australian workers will be able to claim the cost of facemasks, hand sanitiser and gloves as tax deductions for working through COVID-19.

The Australian Tax Office today said it would accept the deductions as long as workers paid for the items themselves, were not reimbursed and had to work in proximity with customers or clients.

"Taxpayers working in jobs that require physical contact or close proximity with customers or clients during COVID-19 measures may be able to claim a deduction for items such as gloves, face masks, sanitiser or anti-bacterial spray if they have paid for the items and not been reimbursed," ATO Assistant Commissioner Karen Foat said.

"This includes industries like healthcare, retail and hospitality."

Ms Foat said the radical shift to working from home for thousands of Australians will dramatically change how the last three months have been calculated on their tax returns.

Responding to this change, the ATO has introduced a temporary "shortcut method" of deducting 80 cents per hour for all running costs and depreciation of working from home.

Woman wearing face mask

READ MORE: How to calculate your working from home expenses using the "shortcut method"

"If you use the shortcut method, all you need to do is keep a record of the hours you worked from home as evidence of your claim," Ms Foat said.

"But it is all inclusive, meaning you can't claim for any other working from home expenses."

Despite the general goodwill surrounding COVID-19, Ms Foat cautioned taxpayers about assuming normal deductions would stay the same.

For instance, claiming car expenses for the one-off trip from home into the office or laundry expenses despite sitting in tracksuit pants for months will raise red flags.

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"With more people working from home, working reduced hours or unfortunately not working at all, we expect to see claims for laundry expenses or travel expenses decline this year," Ms Foat said.

"If you aren't travelling for work, you can't claim travel expenses. If you aren't wearing your work uniform, you can't claim laundry expenses.

"It's still important to meet the three golden rules: you must have spent the money and not have been reimbursed, it must relate directly to earning your income, and you must have a record to prove it."

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Ms Foat said everybody's circumstances have been different as a result of COVID-19, and their returns should reflect that.

"What you can claim really depends on your circumstances," Ms Foat said.

"Whilst we are trying to make it easier for people to claim what they are entitled to; we are also asking people to take a bit of extra care if their circumstances have changed this year."


EXPLAINED: How to calculate your working at home costs for a maximised tax return

The top five mistakes people make on their tax returns

What is the ATO's "shortcut method" and how much can I claim?

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Source: 9News

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