Tax Deductions for Disability Support Care Worker

(last updated 23/04/2014) 

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If you work as a Disability Support Care Worker, here is a checklist of tax deductions you may be able to claim on your personal tax return.

TAX WARNING:   
  • Vaccinations: The ATO's view is a deduction is not allowable for the cost of vaccinations as a precaution for disability support care workers and nursing employees against contracting infectious diseases.

When Can a Disability Support Care Worker Claim for Car Expenses?

The cost of travel between home and your place of employment is usually considered private and not deductible.

There are a number of cases and circumstances where travel between home and employment is an allowable deduction:
  • Transport of Clients-  A deduction is allowable for the cost of travel attributable to the transport of clients in the course of producing assessable income, for example, transporting clients to and from doctors' appointments and clinet's activities etc. This is so, even if the travel begins at the employee Disability Support Care Workers' home and ends at his or her regular place of employment. The cost of the total distance travelled (beginning at home and ending at school) is allowable. 
  • To second job - A deduction is allowable for the cost of travelling directly between two work place - from one employer to another second job.This also applies to travel from work to a place of business where you are engaged in work related activities
  • Between Work Places - A deduction is allowable for the cost of travel from a nursing employee's normal work place to other work places. The cost of travel from the alternative work place back to the normal work place or directly home is also an allowable deduction.
  • Home to Alternative Work Place - A deduction is allowable for the cost of travel from home to an alternative work place. A deduction is also allowable for the cost of travel from the alternative work place to the normal place of employment or directly home
  • Between Home and Shifting Places of Employment - A deduction is allowable for the cost of travel from home where you:  (a) do not work to any regular pattern; (b) there is no long term plan by which you can predict what will be required of you in the future; (c) there is no certainty as to the range of work locations you will attend over a period. 

What Car Expneses Can a Disability Support Care Worker Claim?

  • The cost of using your own car for work, including travel to attend meetings, attend training courses, pick up supplies and driving between or around job sites (to claim for car costs it is usually best to keep a diary record of the number of kilometres you travel during the year for work purposes and then we can calculate the amount of your tax deduction at the end of the year)  - see Claiming Work Related Car Expenses.
  • The cost of parking, tolls, taxis and public transport if you are required to travel to attend seminars, meetings and training courses not held at your usual place of work (if you need to stay away overnight you can also claim for the cost of all meals and your accommodation)  
  • The cost of bridge and road tolls paid while driving between your depot and your client’s depot (but NOT while driving to and from work)
  • You can claim the cost of using your own car to travel to and from work, BUT only if you are required to carry bulky tools and equipment for your work AND there is no secure area to leave these items on site overnight.

How Can Disability Support Care Workers Claim Car Expenses

The following is a checklist of the 4 differnt methods of claiming motor vehicle or car expenses:

Meals and Overnight Travel Away From Home

 It is common for Disability Support Care Workers to sleep over at a clients premises. The following is a summay with links on what can be claimed as a tax deduction:
  • Overnight Travel Away From Home - the cost of buying overtime meals when you work overtime is an allowable deduction, provided you have been paid an allowance by your employer. Providing the deduction for overtime meals does not exceed the ATO's reasonable allowance, substantiation is not required - for the current rate see Claiming Overtime Meal Allowance.
  • Overtime Meal Allowances - the cost of buying overtime meals when you work overtime, provided you have been paid an allowance by your employer (you can claim up to a maximum of $27.10 (2013 rate) per meal without having to keep any receipts, provided you can show how you have calculated the amount you spent - see Claiming Overtime Meal Allowance.

Keeping Records for Overnight Travel

The following tables explain what records you need if you are claiming domestic or overseas travel expenses for accommodation, food, drink or incidentals.
If you did not receive a travel allowance:

Domestic travel
Overseas travel
Written evidence
Travel diary
Written evidence
Travel diary
Travel less than 6 nights in a row
Yes
No
Yes
No
Travel 6 or more nights in a row
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes

If you received a travel allowance and your claim does not exceed the reasonable allowance amount:

Domestic travel
Overseas travel
Written evidence
Travel diary
Written evidence
Travel diary
Travel less than 6 nights in a row
No
No
No*
No
Travel 6 or more nights in a row
No
No
No*
Yes
*Regardless of the length of the trip, written evidence is required for overseas accommodation expenses but not for food, drink and incidentals
If you received a travel allowance and your claim exceeds the reasonable allowance amount:

Domestic travel
Overseas travel
Written evidence
Travel diary
Written evidence
Travel diary
Travel less than 6 nights in a row
Yes
No
Yes
No
Travel 6 or more nights in a row
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes

Agency Costs

  • Agency commissions - A commission payment to a nursing agency is usually met by the hospital, clinic, etc and a deduction is not allowable to the nursing employee. If the nursing employee actually incurs the cost then a deduction is allowable
  • Agency fees - A deduction is not allowable for upfront fees, joining fees or search fees paid to a nursing agency
  • Agency Disability Support Care Workers - A deduction is not allowable for the cost of obtaining employment through an agency, including preparation of resumes, calls to the agency as well as telephone/mobile rental, beepers, pagers and answering machines used for contacting the agency. A deduction is also not allowable for the cost of travel to and from employer hospitals, clinics, etc. A deduction may be allowable where a nursing employee is actually employed by the agency.

Work Clothing  

A deduction is allowable for the cost of buying, renting or replacing clothing, uniforms and footwear ('clothing') if:
  • the clothing is protective in nature
  • the clothing is occupation specific and not conventional in nature - NOTE that a traditional Disability Support Care Workers uniform is no longer considered deductible as it is not commonly used these days
  • the clothing is a compulsory uniform and satisfies the requirements of Taxation Ruling IT 2641 - for example corporate wardrobe
  • expenditure on shoes, socks and stockings is essentially of a private nature and, even when these items are worn at the request of the employer, their cost will only be deductible in limited circumstances. To qualify for deduction, the items must firstly form an integral part of a distinctive and compulsory uniform the components of which are set out by the employer in its expressed uniform policy or guidelines. In addition, the employer's uniform policy or guidelines should stipulate the characteristics of the shoes, socks and stockings that qualify them as being a distinctive part of the compulsory uniform, e.g., colour, style, type, etc. The wearing of the uniform must also be strictly and consistently enforced, with breaches of the uniform policy giving rise to disciplinary action. It is only in strict compulsory uniform regimes that expenditure on shoes, socks and stockings is likely to be regarded as work-related rather than private in nature
  • the clothing is a non-compulsory uniform or wardrobe that has been entered on the Register of Approved Occupational Clothing of the TCFDA. Details of registered corporate wardrobes can be obtained either from your employer or from the Department of Industry directly on 03 9268 7944. NOTE, there is no longer a public register available on the web. See out post on Non-compulsory Corporate Uniform for additional information.
  • A deduction is allowable for the cost of cleaning, laundry and maintaining clothing that falls into one or more of the categories of deductible clothing above

Training

  • The cost of work-related short training courses (for example first aid, OH&S, truck and heavy equipment driving, vehicle maintenance) that are not run by a University or TAFE. You can claim for the cost of any course fees, books, stationery, Internet connection, telephone calls, tools or equipment and travelling to and from the course. You can also claim any accommodation and meal expenses you have to pay if you are required to stay away overnight for your course
  • The cost of self-education courses run by a University (not including HECS/HELP fees) or TAFE that directly relate to your current work. If you are studying you can also claim for the cost of books, stationery, equipment and travel required for your course.
See this post for details on claiming a Tax Deduction for Self Education.

Work Tools and Equipment  

  • The cost of buying and repairing equipment you use at work (including tools, CB radio, portable refrigerator, sleeping bag, electronic organisers, laptop computers and mobile phones) 
  • The cost of any truck repairs, maintenance, spillage or cleaning (provided you are not reimbursed by your employer for these costs) 
  • The cost of any materials or supplies that you buy for use at work (for example safety gear, first aid equipment, backpack or belt bag) 
  • The cost of stationery, diary, log books, work bag or briefcase

Other Allowable Work Expenses 

  • Parking - A deduction is allowable for parking fees (but not fines) and tolls if the expense is incurred while travelling:
        (a) between two separate places of work;
        (b) for self education purposes (if the self education expenses are an allowable deduction);
        (c) in the normal course of duty and the travelling expenses are allowable deductions.
  • The cost of annual memberships or union fees 
  • The cost of Disability Support Care Workers tickets such as blue cards and other practicing certification
  • Computers, calculators and electronic organisers - A deduction is allowable for the work-related portion of depreciation on the purchase price of these items
  • The cost of work-related books, magazines and journals   
  • Conferences, seminars and training courses - A deduction is allowable for the cost of attending conferences, seminars and training courses to maintain or increase a nursing employee's knowledge, ability or skills in the nursing industry. There must be a relevant connection with the current work activities of the nursing employee
  • First aid courses - A deduction is allowable if it is necessary for a nursing employee to undertake first aid training to assist in emergency situations. If the cost of the course is met by the employer, or is reimbursed to the nursing employee, no deduction is allowable
  • Self education expenses - A deduction is allowable for the cost of self education if there is a direct connection between the self education and the current income-earning activities. Self education costs can include fees, travel, books and equipment
  • The cost of work-related mobile or home telephone calls and rental (you should keep a diary record of the number of phone calls you make for work for one month and then we can use that to estimate your usage for the whole year)  
  • Watches - A deduction is allowable for depreciation and maintenance of a Disability Support Care Workers' fob watch to the extent of the work-related use of the watch. A deduction is not allowable for the cost and maintenance of a conventional wrist watch
  • The cost of work-related Internet connection fees (you can only claim the proportion of your monthly fees that relate to work use, which could include emailing, research relating to your job and research for your training courses).
NOT ALLOWABLE DEDUCTION - Vaccinations: A deduction is not allowable for the cost of vaccinations as a precaution for nursing employees against contracting infectious diseases.

General Expenses

There are some tax deductions that all employees can claim on their personal tax returns:
  • The amount of any donations to registered charities (as long as you haven’t received anything in return for your donation, such as raffle tickets or novelty items) 
  • The cost of bank fees charged on any investment accounts 
  • The cost of income protection or sickness and accident insurance premiums (this type of insurance covers you if you hurt yourself (including when you are not at work) or become sick and you are unable to work. It will pay you your normal wage until you are fit to return to work – if you don’t have this insurance you should see a financial adviser or ask us and we will refer you to someone who can organise it for you. It is definitely worthwhile) 
  • Your tax agent fees (the amount you pay to your accountant to prepare your tax return each year) 
  • The cost of travelling to see your tax agent (you can claim the cost of travelling to see your accountant to have your tax return prepared. You should keep a record of the number of kilometres you travel and any other incidental costs such as parking, meals, accommodation etc)
We suggest that you keep receipts for all purchases that are work related, even if they are not listed above. That way, when we prepare your tax return, we can decide whether you are allowed to claim a tax deduction for them or not.

E-tax Return

See these posts with tips, calculators and checklists to help you prepare your eTax Return (and get a better refund) with less hassle:
For help with your eTax return see our eTax Return Checklist.

Web Based Tax Return App:

A benefit of using eZtax, our web based tax return app, is we have the genuine online tools, knowledge and experience to get the best tax refund for our clients, making it easy to complete your annual tax return online.

Our Web Based Tax Return App will step you through all the necessary questions to increase your  tax refund and take into account all relevant tax deductions and tax offsets. Try it now. Its FREE to get started! 

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