As tax agents, I’d like to say we’ve seen it all, but I’m sure with another year under way, we’ll have an even stranger tax claim being asked about to add to our list. We recently came across this list of some unusual claims that have been made and thought it might make you smile as it did us.
Now in no means is this a list of what you should try and claim, as everyone’s circumstances are different, but it goes with most of the answers we get to give. At the end of the day, if you incur the expense in order to earn the income, then generally there can be an argument that the expense is claimable, provided it doesn’t fall within a specific exemption category.
1. Dog and associated vet bills.
Yes a dog can be claimed if you have a guard dog or working dog. The ATO will allow you to deduct the vet and food bills however, you need to be able to prove the dog is a guard or working dog. It can’t be a family pet dog, like the one laying on my lap as I write this. Or the one that yaps at the door when someone comes to visit. You’re also out of luck if you have a domestic cat… unless it’s a barn cat.
2. Fake boobs.
Yes, strangely enough, if you can prove that you require them as part of your work you can grab that claim. However you need proper evidence that they are essential for your job. They will however no longer fall within the definition of medical expenses to claim an offset. They are considered cosmetic after all.
3. Sex toys.
Yes, if you happen to work within an industry and occupation that requires such devices. The ATO says that “various quirky deductions may be available to particular occupations and trades.”
While we’re speaking of adult workers, they can claim condoms, lotions, both unpowered and powered devices and tissues.
4. Hand cream.
Unfortunately no. The ATO revealed that “a building construction labourer claimed for the cost of hand cream as a work-related expense. The cost of sun-screen was deductible, however his claim for hand cream was deemed to be a private expense and disallowed.” Hand models would experience a different answer here as they would be required to keep those assets moisturised.
5. An apocalypse shelter.
Hmmm, no. You may be safe in the unlikely event of something that threatens life as we know it, however you’re not going to get that tax deduction from the ATO. The only way this might get through, and only by way of depreciation, is if you are using it as your work place to operate your business.
Surprisingly yes if you are using it in the workplace! Ok, so you can’t claim this for your own personal use however the ATO has acknowledged that gaming systems such as the XBox allow people to refocus in the workplace. You can also claim a Foxtel subscription too if they are used in the workplace. Now neither of these would be claimable by an employee, but maybe a business owner who employs others.
7. Clown costumes.
Yes, just not for Halloween. If you are a professional performer and need a costume for this, you can claim it. However you’re out of luck if you’re in an orchestra and require a dinner suit as this isn’t specific enough as a costume.
8. Pedicures and Manicures
Yes you can claim these but only if you require them for work. For example, the ATO says that if you’re a hand model you can claim the cost of manicures. Must pay to be a hand model, so do I see that hand to volunteer?
9. Lawyers and Legal Expenses
Yes, if they are for work related or business purposes. Anything related to estate planning matters will not be deductible. Mostly it’s about expenses that may be incurred for protecting your income earning ability. However the confusing part of this is that divorce lawyer fees are not, as the ATO doesn’t recognise this as self-improvement.
10. Sunscreen, sunnies and hats.
Yes and this one’s been available for a few years now. If you’re a gardener or builder you can claim hats, sunscreen and sunnies. This was only possible after a court challenge by outdoor workers to the ATO. Basically if you are required to work outside, including teachers doing playground duty or sports training, then you are entitled to make a claim. I think they’ve put my new office out of the balcony so I might have to review this one for myself J.
If you think you’ve got an unusual expense that you’ve incurred, chances are we’ve probably heard of it before. But nevertheless, ask us when we go to prepare your return. The worst answer you’ll get is No, but if it is incurred to earn you income, then maybe you might find a favourable answer after all.