Jobs scoring biggest tax refunds
AS THE 2018 tax deadline looms, new research has revealed which professions are most likely to score the healthiest refunds.
According to Etax.com.au, Aussie surgeons, real estate agents and lawyers are claiming thousands of dollars more each year than engineers, accountants and teachers.
Crunching the latest tax data of millions of Aussie workers from the Australian Taxation Office, experts found surgeons claimed an average deduction of $21,184.
It's more than double the average refund of real estate agents, the next profession on the list, and represents a healthy cash injection for those working in what is already a highly paid industry.
But despite that staggering figure, Etax.com.au senior tax agent Liz Russell said it wasn't actually that surprising.
"One reason for this is that surgeons generally aren't reimbursed for any of their many, many expenses by their employer. This means all those expenses can generally be claimed on their return instead," she said.
"Unlike many other professionals, surgeons are generally required to take a certain number of special training courses to keep up with the latest medical practices.
"Additionally, surgeons can claim costs for textbooks, other learning materials, home office computers, furniture for study and travel costs associated with attending courses. Plus they often need their own insurance which can run into the thousands, or in some cases tens of thousands of dollars per year."
Ms Russell said the same was true for all the top claiming fields.
"The nature of their work means they have a high number of work-related expenses, and the employing company doesn't offset or reimburse them for these costs," she said.
"Like surgeons, real estate agents have a lot of work-related expenses that simply aren't reimbursed. This includes the financial demands of their work, such as car maintenance, licencing fees and incidental out-of-pocket costs, that are all deductible."
Ms Russell said lawyers also have a broad list of work-related expenses they can claim, including travelling to see clients, self-education and annual registration fees.
But she said thousands of Aussies from all professions were missing out on maximising their returns.
"Each occupation has a niche set of rules that govern the relevant tax entitlements, and there are no guarantees when it comes to the minimum refund a taxpayer can expect in each industry," she said.
"Even workers within one specific occupation can have hugely different deductions, meaning yours could be completely different to your co-worker's and can even change from year to year."
She said the best way to get the biggest refund was by keeping track of your expenses throughout the financial year.
"Smart workers are the ones who have a good system for recording expenses and they use a tax agent to get all that added the right way to their tax return," she said.
"Any expenses that are truly work-related and necessary can be claimed as a tax deduction. "It's important to seek guidance on what is relevant to your specific industry, role, and income."
But she said workers from industries with higher tax entitlements still needed to avoid making illegitimate claims.
"Those with broader options for deductions who try to get 'creative' with claims are on the fast track to an ATO examination," she said.
"These can go back years and are very painful for workers who don't keep good records.
"However, a bit of help from a tax agent to ensure that you claim all the deductions and tax concessions that you're entitled to will definitely pay off."
And once you do get your hands on your refund, it pays to follow the advice of legendary investor Warren Buffett and take the "boring" option.
The Berkshire Hathaway chairman urges workers to: "Just put aside a little money every month - put it in a very low-cost index fund."
That's because index funds spread your money out over many stocks, flattening out the risk while sacrificing the excitement of huge short-term gains and falls.
CAN I CLAIM IT?
If you can say yes to all of the below, then in most cases you can claim the expense as a tax deduction.
• Is it directly related to your work or required for your work?
• Do you have a proper receipt or evidence for the item?
• Did you pay for it yourself?
• Did you use your own money as opposed to a work credit card or petty cash to buy the item?
• Did you carry the cost as opposed to getting a reimbursement from your company or anyone else?