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Easing down the Taxation for SMEs and Sole Traders for EOFY 2020

Easing down the Taxation for SMEs and Sole Traders for EOFY 2020

There was a hard-hitting time for people across the world due to the Covid-19 destruction, which has impacted the business owners more significantly. Similarly, amid this, the majority of the taxpayers are a bit stressed for their tax.

As we all know, the financial year’s end is on the way, so now it’s time to be attentive. Moreover, to reduce the burden, and keeping the current situations in mind, ATO (Australian Tax Office) has been trying to bring easiness in tax returns.

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has already done huge preparations in this taxation month. For which they are introducing additional options to give relaxations to small and big firm owners so that it can help them to file tax returns on time.

Hence, major changes have been made by ATO (mentioned by assistant Commissioner Karen Foat, from ATO). So what’re the things you should remember are mentioned below.

Claims for working from home with the ‘Shortcut’ method

Due to COVID-19, the ATO is expecting to see a considerable hike across business owners filing for claims deductions during the lockdown as they are working from home.

Taking into consideration, work from home, ATO has introduced a ‘shortcut’ which enables taxpayers to claim almost 80 cents for each hour until they are working from home.

This method will help workers a lot. For instance, if while working from home, they incurred expenses, then they are eligible to claim for that. However, in this claim, traveling expenses and laundry expenses aren’t included.

Change in income during COVID-19

A sole trader who receives job keeper payments will have to be a bit considerate. Because, for your business, you’ll have to include job keeper payments as assessable income. However, this rule doesn’t apply to employees.

David Mckeller (the Allied Business Accountant) says that businesses must ensure that they respect to obligations made for claim deduction on salary payments.

Avoid spending splurge at the EOFY

At the end of the financial year, businesses might already have a huge shopping list. Similarly, it implies that there’s no shortage of items, so there’re loads of deals rolling around. Hence, you might be wondering about spending extra at the time of EOFY.

But remember, cash flow is a king, hence make sure that you spend wisely. If purchasing goods at present costs you more in the upcoming time, then it’s surely going to become a significant obstruction in your business.

For instance,- if you purchase anything on loan right now, don’t forget the interests you’ll have to pay on it. Due to the coronavirus outbreak, each country’s economy is going through a recession.

Hence spending extra can put you into big trouble. Moreover, you can seek help from a financial adviser to avoid any problem in the future.

Must Remember! Super contribution

According to the McKeller, a superannuation cap is an effective tax strategy that businesses should not forget. Almost all businesses had to face-off with depressed income due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Hence carrying forward, concessional Superannuation can be the best decision.

For instance, apart from super, if your contribution to the marginal tax rate is higher than 15%, then you must employ a Super contribution strategy for tax. Moreover, you’re also able to carry forward unused cap for the duration of 5 years if your income isn’t high because of COVID-19.

Getting the Tax Payment Early

Here in these prevalent situations, we’ll have to stay thoughtful for filing tax return so that it may not impact us with huge problems. Example- from expenses, working from home deductions to charitable donations, you’ll have to pay special attention to each point. After all, plenty of things have changed over time.

Moreover, play smart if you want to be proactive and stay top of the line. If you don’t want to confront tax affairs problems, the sooner you file your tax return, the better it will be for you. It’s the time to get most refunds out of your tax returns. Hence, you should book a meet with your tax agents as early as possible without any delay.

Home office expenses


If you’re an employee who works from home, you may be able to claim a deduction for expenses you incur relating to that work. These can be additional running expenses such as electricity, the decline in value of equipment or furniture and phone and internet expenses.

If your home is your principal place of business, you should refer to running your business from home.

In most cases, if you are working from home as an employee, there will be no capital gains tax (CGT) implications for your home.

Expenses you can’t claim

There are some expenses you can’t claim a deduction for as an employee. Employees who work at home can’t claim costs:

  • for coffee, tea, milk, and other general household items your employer may otherwise have provided you with at work
  • related to children and their education including setting them up for online learning, teaching them at home or buying equipment such as iPads and desks
  • that you’re reimbursed for, paid directly by your employer or the decline in value of items provided by your employer – for example, a laptop or a phone.

Employees generally can’t claim occupancy expenses such as rent, mortgage interest, water and rates.

Calculation methods

There are three ways of calculating home office expenses depending on your circumstances. The methods are the:

You must meet the record-keeping requirements and working criteria to use each method.

Use our Home office expenses calculators to help work out your deduction.

Shortcut method

We have introduced a shortcut method to simplify how you calculate your deduction for working from home. This method is temporary and only available for the period 1 March to 30 June 2020. All employees working from home in this period can use this method.

Using this method, you can claim 80 cents per hour for each hour you work from home during the period 1 March to 30 June 2020.

You can choose to use this rate if you:

  • are working from home to fulfil your employment duties, not just carrying out minimal tasks such as occasionally checking emails or taking calls
  • have incurred additional running expenses as a result of working from home.

The shortcut method covers all of your work from home expenses, such as:

  • phone expenses
  • internet expenses
  • the decline in value of equipment and furniture
  • electricity and gas for heating, cooling and lighting.

If you use this method, you can’t claim any other expenses for working from home.

You don’t need to have a dedicated work area to use this method. However, you must keep a record of the number of hours you have worked from home. This could be a timesheet, roster, a diary or documents that set out the hours you worked from home.

You don’t have to use the shortcut method, you can choose to use one of the existing methods to calculate your deduction. You can use the method or methods that will give you the best outcome as long as you meet the working criteria and record-keeping requirements for each method.

If you had a work from home arrangement before 1 March 2020, you will need to use one of the existing methods to calculate your deduction for the period 1 July 2019 to 29 February 2020.

The shortcut method includes a decline in the value of all items. If you choose to use this method there is no requirement to separately calculate the decline in value of equipment or depreciating assets. However, as you may combine methods or use a different method in later years it’s important to keep the:

  • purchase receipts for depreciating assets or equipment you use when working from home
  • records of how you calculated your work-related use of the asset
  • your decline in value calculations.

For more information about the shortcut method, see employees working from home during COVID-19.

Fixed rate method

You can claim a deduction of 52 cents for each hour you work from home for the work-related expenses you incur for additional running expenses. The fixed-rate covers all expenses you incur for:

  • the decline in value of home office furniture and furnishings – for example, a desk
  • electricity and gas for heating, cooling and lighting
  • the cost of repairs to your home office equipment, furniture and furnishings.

To claim using this method, you must keep records of either:

  • your actual hours spent working at home for the year
  • a diary for a representative four-week period to show your usual pattern of working at home.

You can apply the four-week representative period across the remainder of the year to determine your full deduction amount. However, if your work pattern changes you will need to create a new record.

To use this method, you need to have a dedicated work area, such as a home office when you work from home.

This method doesn’t include the following, so you will need to separately calculate your work-related use for:

  • phone expenses
  • internet expenses
  • computer consumables and stationery – such as ink
  • decline in value of equipment – such as phones, computers and laptops.

To claim the work-related portion of these expenses you must have records such as:

  • receipts or other written evidence that shows the amount spent on expenses and depreciating assets you purchased
  • phone accounts identifying your work-related calls and private calls to work out your percentage of work-related use for a representative period
  • a diary that shows
    • a representative four-week period of your usual pattern of working at home
    • any small expenses ($10 or less) that you can’t get a receipt for totalling no more than $200
    • your work-related internet use
    • the percentage of the year you used depreciating assets exclusively for work.

Actual cost method

Under the actual expenses method, you can claim the additional running costs you directly incur as a result of working from home. This may include the following expenses:

  • electricity and gas for cooling, heating and lighting
  • the decline in value of home office furniture (desk, chair) and furnishings,
  • the decline in value of phones, computers, laptops or similar devices
  • phone expenses
  • internet expenses
  • cleaning (if you use a dedicated area for working)
  • computer consumables and stationery – such as ink

If you don’t have a dedicated work area, such as a home office, you will generally only incur minimal additional running expenses. For example, if the area you use for work is a common area of the home such as a lounge room and that area is being used by other members of your household for another purpose (such as, family members watching television) at the same time you’re working, you won’t be incurring any additional costs for lighting, heating or cooling as a result of working in that room.

To calculate the work-related portion of your actual expenses you must have records. You can:

  • keep a record of the number of actual hours you work from home during the income year
  • keep a diary for a representative four-week period to show your usual pattern of working at home
  • work out the decline in value of depreciating assets and
    • keep receipts showing the amount you spent on the assets
    • show the percentage of the year you used those depreciating assets exclusively for work – you can claim for the portion of the decline in value that reflects your work-related use of the depreciating assets
  • work out the cost of your cleaning expenses (if you have a dedicated work area) – for example, a room set up as a home office, by adding together your receipts and multiplying it by the floor area of your dedicated work area (floor area of the dedicated work area divided by the whole area of the house as a percentage) – your claim should be apportioned for any
    • private use of your home office
    • use of the home office by other family members
  • work out the cost of your heating, cooling and lighting by working out the following
    • the cost per unit of power used – refer to your utility bill for this information
    • the average units used per hour – this is the power consumption per kilowatt hour for each appliance, equipment or light used
    • the total annual hours used for work-related purposes – refer to your record of hours worked or your diary for this information.
  • work out the cost of your phone or internet plan expenses – where you receive an itemised bill, you need to determine your percentage of work use over a four-week representative period. See, Claiming mobile phone, internet and home phone expenses.
  • work out the cost of computer consumables and stationery by keeping receipts for the items purchased.

You must take into account other members of your household when you work out your expenses. If a member of your household is using the same area of the house or the same service when you’re working, you must apportion your expenses accordingly.

To claim a deduction for an asset that cost $300 or more, you need to calculate the decline in value for both the period you:

  • owned the assets during the income year
  • used the assets for work-related purposes.

You can use the depreciation and capital allowances tool to calculate your deduction for the decline in value of equipment, furniture and furnishings that cost more than $300, use the depreciation and capital allowances tool to work this out.

You can use the myDeductions tool in the ATO app to keep track of your expenses and receipts throughout the year. It’s a fast, easy way to capture information on the go by taking and uploading photos of receipts.

Examples – comparing methods

Example 1: work out the method that gives the best outcome using a comparison of the deduction available for each method

Linus is employed as an engineer. Linus has an agreement with his employer to work from home one day per week and occasionally before or after a site visit. Linus’s employer provides him with a laptop and mobile phone, his employer also pays for the monthly mobile plan.

When Linus works from home he uses his own internet and has an office he uses as a dedicated work area. His monthly internet plan costs $69 per month.

Due to the COVID-19 situation Linus increases his work from home to five days per week starting on 17 March. Linus also continues to do site visits.

As Linus is working from home more, on 19 March he decides to buy an ergonomic chair for $249 to use. The rest of his office furniture is over 10 years old.

When completing his tax return, Linus usually claims his home office expenses using the fixed rate method. He keeps the required records to show how he calculates his claim. Linus uses his home office including the desk and chair for both work and private purposes. He works out that his private use is 10%.

Linus is aware of the increased fixed rate using the shortcut method for the period 1 March to 30 June 2020. As Linus’s work from home arrangement changed as a result of COVID-19, he can choose to use the method that works best for him so, he decides to do a comparison between the methods.

Calculating the time spent working from home

Linus looks at records he has kept for the year (these include a diary for a representative period of four weeks and his timesheets).

He works out that from 1 July 2019 to 29 February 2020, he worked from home for 12 hours per week on average. Except for the three weeks he had off over Christmas.

Linus calculates the hours he spent working from home for the period from 1 July 2019 to 29 February 2020 as:

(35 weeks − 3 weeks leave) × 12 hours per week = 384 hours

He determines his work-related internet usage was 10% for the period up until 16 March and 30% for the period from 17 March to 30 June 2020, taking into account his family’s use and his private use.

In the period 1 March to 16 March 2020, Linus continues to work from home for an average of 12 hours per week. The total hours worked from home during the two week period is:

12 hours per week × 2 weeks = 24 hours

From 17 March to 30 June 2020, Linus works out that he worked:

  • on site visits for a total of 75 hours
  • at home for 555 hours.

Linus can’t use any of the methods to claim for the cost of his work-related phone calls or the decline in value of his laptop and phone handset. This is because his laptop and phone are provided by his employer and his calls are paid for by his employer.

Based on his calculations (detailed in the examples below), Linus works out he would be able to claim:

  • $625.62 using the fixed rate method (52 cents) – see Example 2
  • $708.48 using a combination of the fixed rate (52 cents) and shortcut method (80 cents) – see Example 3
  • $613.77 using the actual cost method – see Example 4.

Linus decides to use the fixed rate method for the period 1 July 2019 until 29 February 2020 and the shortcut method from 1 March 2020 to 30 June 2020 as that gives him the best result.

Example 2: Linus’s deduction using the fixed rate method (52 cents)

Using the fixed rate method for the entire year, Linus calculates his deduction as:

(384 hours + 24 hours + 555 hours) × 0.52 (hourly rate) = $500.76

Linus also calculates his internet expenses as these are not covered by the fixed rate. Linus calculates his internet use for the period:

  • 1 July 2019 to 16 March 2020

8.5 months × $69 per month = $586.50

$586.50 × 10% = $58.65

  • 17 March to 30 June 2020

3.5 months × $69 per month = $241.50

$241.50 × 30% = $72.45

The 52 cents per hour rate covers the decline in value of office furniture, therefore Linus cannot claim a separate deduction for the decline in value of his chair.

Total deduction:

$500.76 + $58.65 + $72.45 = $631.86

Example 3: Linus’s deduction using the Fixed rate and Shortcut method

Using the fixed rate method for the period 1 July 2019 to 29 February 2020 and using the shortcut method for the period 1 March to 30 June 2020, Linus calculates his deduction as below.

Period from 1 July 2019 to 29 February 2020:

  • Fixed hourly rate

384 hours × 0.52 = $199.68

  • Internet expenses

8 months × $69 per month = $552

$552 × 10% = $55.20

Total claim amount is:

$199.68 + $55.20 = $254.88

Period from 1 March to 30 June 2020:

  • Shortcut rate:

(24 hours + 555 hours) × 0.80 = $463.20

Total deduction:

$254.88 (fixed rate) + $463.20 (shortcut rate) = $718.08

Linus doesn’t include the cost of the chair as the decline in value is included in both of the rates. He also doesn’t include his internet usage in the period from 1 March to 30 June as the internet usage is included in the shortcut rate.

Example 4: Linus’s deduction using the Actual costs method

Using this method, Linus will claim directly for any deductible expenses he incurs. He will need to have records for all of his expenses. For his running expenses he can claim his additional costs.

Internet expenses:

8.5 months × $69 per month = $586.50

$586.50 × 10% = $58.65

3.5 months × $69 per month = $241.50

$241.50 × 30% = $72.45

Deduction amount:

$58.65 + $72.45 = $131.10

Decline in value of office chair:

As the cost of the office chair was less than $300, Linus can claim the full cost in the year it was purchased. However, it must be apportioned to account for his private use.

Decline in value calculation:

$249 × 90% (work use percentage) = $224.10


Linus uses electricity for his computer and to light, cool and heat his home office while he is working at home. Based on his records he:

  • used his air conditioning for 50% of the time he spent working from home – the air conditioner uses 2kW for cooling and heating per hour.
  • used two 12 watt LED lights in the office whenever he is working.
  • used his laptop whenever he is working from home – the laptop uses 50 watts per hour.
  • pays 25 cents per kW hour for electricity.


12 watts ÷ 1000 = 0.012 kW

0.012kW × (2 × 25 cents) = 0.6 cents

0.006 cents × 963 hours = $5.78

Air conditioner

2kW × 25 cents = 50 cents

0.50 cents × (963 × 50%) = $240.75


50 watts ÷ 1000 = 0.05kW

0.05 × 25 cents = 1.25 cents

0.0125 cents × 963 hours = $12.04

Total claim:

$131.10 + $224.10 + $5.78 + $240.75 + $12.04 = $613.77

Records for change in circumstances

Regardless of the method you choose to use to calculate your expenses for working from home, you will need to have records.

If your circumstances change part way through the income year – for example, your usual pattern of work from home changes – you will need to keep separate records to show this change.

If you use the four-week representative period to calculate your usage over the income year, you will need to either:

  • complete a new four-week representative period to show your usage in your new circumstances
  • keep separate records for the period your circumstances changed.

For example, if you usually work from home one day a week and due to an emergency situation such as COVID-19 or bush fires you’re required to work from home for a period, you will need to keep separate records for both situations. This includes:

  • the actual hours you’ve worked from home due to the emergency situation
  • your usual working from home arrangements.

Your four-week representative period will no longer be valid in these circumstances.

Accessing your income statement or payment summary


How you get your end of financial year information from your employer showing your earnings for the year (also known as an income statement or payment summary) depends on how your employer reports your income, tax and super information to us. You will be provided with either:

  • an income statement – if your employer reports your income, tax and super information to us through Single Touch Payroll (STP) they are no longer required to give you a payment summary, this information will be made available to you through ATO online services via myGov and finalised by 31 July
  • a payment summary – if your employer is not yet reporting through STP they will continue to provide you with a payment summary by 14 July (as they do now).

Your employer should let you know if you will receive an income statement or payment summary but you should talk to them if you are unsure.

If you have more than one employer, you may receive both an income statement and a payment summary. You will need to check that income from your payment summaries is included in your return. This information may be pre-filled for you or you might need to enter it manually.

To access a summary factsheet of the changes to accessing your payment summary, see Single Touch Payroll for employees.

Accessing your end of financial year information

You can access your end of financial year information through:

Your tax agent

Your tax agent will be able to access your income statement or payment summary information through their software or Online services for agents.

If your employer is reporting through STP, your agent will need to wait until the income statement has been marked as ‘Tax ready’ to prepare and lodge your return. Most employers have until 14 July 2020 to finalize their data. However, some employers have until 31 July to do this.

We will send a notification to your myGov inbox when all of your income statements are ‘Tax ready’.

Through ATO online services via myGov

If your employer has started reporting through STP, they are no longer required to give you a payment summary. You will instead receive an income statement. You will be able to access this information through your ATO online services via myGov.

Your income statement will show your year-to-date salary and wages, the tax that has been withheld and the reported amounts of your employer super.

Any income statements will be ready to use in your tax return when your employer marks it as ‘Tax ready’. They have until 31 July to do this but will often do it earlier. It is important that you don’t use any information that is not marked ‘Tax ready’ as your employer may finalise your income statement with different amounts which means you may have to amend your tax return.

We will send a notification to your myGov inbox when all of your income statements are ‘Tax ready’.

If after 31 July your income statement is not marked as ‘Tax ready’ in ATO online services, you will need to speak to your employer to find out when they will finalise your statement.

How to access your income statement

If your myGov account is set up and linked to ATO online services, you need to:

  • Log in to myGov using your email address or mobile phone number.
  • Select ATO online services.
  • Select Employment and then view my Income statement.

On the screen, you will see the income you have earned from your employer or employers for the financial year, and the tax that has been withheld.

If you can’t access your information via myGov, you can contact us for a copy of your income statement.

When your income statement is not tax ready

If your income statement information isn’t marked as ‘Tax ready’ by your employer, you will see a red box in ATO online services saying ‘Not tax ready’. You will need to speak to your employer to find out when they will finalise your statement.

If you choose to lodge your tax return before your income statement is finalised by your employer, you will need to review any information that has pre-filled and confirm it is correct and if you wish to use it before you submit your tax return.

If you choose to use information from your income statement before it is finalised to lodge your tax return, you will need to acknowledge that:

  • your employer may finalise your income statement with different amounts
  • you may need to amend your tax return and additional tax may be payable.

Claiming mobile phone, internet and home phone expenses


If you use your own phone or internet for work purposes, you may be able to claim a deduction if all of the following conditions apply:

  • you spent the money yourself
  • the expense is directly related to earning your income
  • you must have a record to prove it.

You can’t claim a deduction where you haven’t incurred any expenses, or you’re reimbursed for any costs by your employer.

For employees working from home as a result of COVID-19, we have specific information available about claiming home office expenses, including phone and internet expenses.

If you use your phone or internet for both work and private use, you will need to work out the percentage that reasonably relates to your work use.

Substantiating your claims

To claim a deduction of more than $50, you need to keep records for a four-week representative period in each income year. These records may include diary entries, including electronic records, and bills. Evidence that your employer expects you to work at home or make some work-related calls from home will also help you show that you are entitled to a deduction.

When you can’t claim a deduction for your phone

Employer-provided phone

If your employer provides you with a phone for work use and they are billed for the usage (phone calls, text messages, data) then you can’t claim a deduction. Similarly, if you pay for your usage and are then reimbursed by your employer, you can’t claim a deduction.

Costs you incur before work commences

If you use your phone to seek employment you can’t claim a deduction as you are not yet generating income from the use of the phone.

Similarly, if you are a casual employee and an employer calls you to ask you to work, or you call them to check on work availability, you can’t claim a deduction. The cost is not considered to be one that directly relates to your income-producing activities. Instead, it’s an activity that is putting you in a position to earn that income.

You can only claim a deduction for the portion of your phone use when you’re earning assessable income and your employer requires you to use your phone directly in earning that income.

For more information on costs that are usually considered private or capital in nature and are disallowed or which require apportionments, such as installation costs, line rental, and joint usage expenses, see the Employees guide for work expenses.

How to apportion work use of your phone

As there are many different types of plans available, you will need to determine your work use using a reasonable basis.

Incidental use

If your work use is incidental and you are not claiming a deduction of more than $50 in total, you may make a claim based on the following, without having to analyze your bills:

  • $0.25 for work calls made from your landline
  • $0.75 for work calls made from your mobile
  • $0.10 for text messages sent from your mobile.

Usage is itemized on your bills

If you have a phone plan with an itemized bill, you need to work out your percentage of work use over a four-week representative period, which you can then apply to the full year.

You need to work out the percentage using a reasonable basis. This could include the:

  • number of work calls made as a percentage of total calls
  • amount of time spent on work calls as a percentage of your total calls
  • amount of data downloaded for work purposes as a percentage of your total downloads.

Example: Phone calls are itemized on your bill

Julie has an $80 per month mobile phone plan, which includes $500 worth of calls and 1.5GB of data. She receives a bill that itemizes her phone calls and provides her with her monthly data use.

Over a four-week representative period, Julie identifies that 20% of her calls are work-related. She worked for 11 months during the income year, having had one month of leave. Julie can claim a deduction of $176 in her tax return (20% × $80 × 11 months).

Usage is not itemized on your bills

If you have a phone plan where you don’t receive an itemised bill, you determine your work use by keeping a record of all your calls over a four-week representative period and then calculate your claim using a reasonable basis.

Example: Non-itemised account

Ahmed has a prepaid mobile phone plan that costs him $50 per month. Ahmed does not receive a monthly bill so he keeps a record of his calls for a four-week representative period. During this four-week period, Ahmed makes 25 work calls and 75 private calls. Ahmed worked for 11 months during the income year, having had one month of leave.

Ahmed calculates his work use as 25% (25 work calls ÷ 100 total calls). He claims a deduction of $138 in his tax return (25% × $50 × 11 months).

Bundled phone and internet plans

Phone and internet services are often bundled. If you are claiming deductions for work-related use of one or more services, you need to apportion your costs based on your work use for each service.

If other members in your household also use the services, you need to take into account their use in your calculation.

If you have a bundled plan, you need to identify your work use for each service over a four-week representative period during the income year. This will allow you to determine your pattern of work use, which you can then apply to the full year.

A reasonable basis to work out your work-related use could include:

  • Internet
    • the amount of data downloaded for work as a percentage of the total data downloaded by all members of your household
    • any additional costs incurred as a result of your work-related use, for example, if your work-related use results in you exceeding your monthly cap.
  • Phone
    • the number of work calls made as a percentage of total calls
    • the amount of time spent on work calls as a percentage of your total calls
    • any additional costs incurred as a result of your work-related calls, for example, if your work-related use results in you exceeding your monthly cap.

Example: Apportioning bundled services

Sujita has a $100 per month home phone and internet bundle. The bill identifies that the monthly cost of Sujita’s phone service in her bundle is $40, and her internet service is $60. Sujita brings in her mobile phone plan of $90 per month and receives a $10 per month discount. Her total costs for all services are $180 per month.

Sujita worked for 11 months during the income year, having had one month of leave.

Based on her itemised accounts, Sujita determines that the work-related use of her mobile phone is 20%. Sujita also uses her home internet for work purposes and based on her use she determines that 10% of her use is for work. Sujita does not use her home phone for work calls.

As the components are part of a bundle Sujita can calculate her work-related use as follows:

Step 1 – work out the value of each bundled component

  • Mobile phone: $90 per month minus the $10 per month discount = $80 per month
  • Internet: $60 per month
  • Home phone: Sujita does not need to determine the home phone costs as she does not use this service for work purposes.

Step 2 – apportion work-related use

  • Mobile phone use: 20% work-related use × $80 per month × 11 months = $176
  • Home internet use: 10% work-related use × $60 per month × 11 months = $66

In her tax return, Sujita claims a deduction of $242 for the financial year ($176 mobile phone use + $66 home internet use).

Example: Apportioning bundled services

Des has a $90 per month home phone and internet bundle, and unlimited internet use as part of his plan. There is no clear breakdown for the cost of each service. By keeping a record of the calls he makes over a four-week representative period, Des determines that 25% of his calls are for work purposes. Des also keeps a record for four weeks of the data downloaded and determines that 30% of the total amount used was for work.

Des worked for 11 months during the income year, having had one month of leave.

As there is no clear breakdown of the cost of each service (calls and downloads), it is reasonable for Des to allocate 50% of the total monthly cost to each service.

Step 1 – work out the value of each bundled component

  • Internet: $45 per month ($90 ÷ two services)
  • Home phone: $45 per month ($90 ÷ two services)

Step 2 – apportion work-related use

  • Internet: 30% work-related use × $45 per month × 11 months = $149
  • Home phone: 25% work related use × $45 per month × 11 months = $124

In his tax return, Des claims a deduction of $273 ($149 + $124) for the year.

Purchasing a smartphone, tablet or other electronic devices

If you bought a smartphone, tablet or other electronic device and you use it for work you can claim a deduction for a percentage of its cost.

Tax tips: How the coronavirus can help you get a larger refund


The coronavirus pandemic has shifted the way we conduct our personal finances, and with June creeping up, tax time is no exception.

Strict social distancing measures have forced millions of Australians to work from home for the first time, throwing up a raft of new deductions. consumer advocate Tom Godfrey told The New Daily sifting through records of expenses can help workers uncover surprising work-related costs to boost their tax refund.

So how has the coronavirus changed the way we conduct our taxes?

The New Daily tackles some key questions.

My employer asked me to work from home. What can I claim?

The ATO has two methods to claim working from home expenses, but choosing the right option depends on how much bookkeeping has been done during the lockdown.

For workers who are unable to apportion their expenses between work-related and private use, or haven’t kept records to substantiate claims, the ATO has introduced a ‘shortcut’ method to make things easier.

That method amounts to 80 cents per hour, and taxpayers should ensure the amount of hours logged matches hours agreed with their employer.

However, those who permanently work from home, or kept paperwork of internet and mobile usage and receipts for stationery and new office equipment, can calculate their actual expenses.

H&R Block’s director of tax communications Mark Chapman said this normally produces a larger tax refund, but workers can run into problems if their records are not up to scratch.

“Sitting down and working out the proportion of your electricity bills and other home expenses that are specifically work-related can be difficult and time-consuming,” Mr. Chapman told The New Daily.

My hours changed because of coronavirus. Can I claim tax back from the ATO?

Workers who lost jobs or had hours slashed by their employer may be eligible for a larger tax refund.

Prior to the outbreak, employers applied tax to their employees’ pay assuming they would be employed in the same capacity over the 2019-20 financial year.

If the number of hours dropped during the lockdown through reduced hours or joblessness, workers could be entitled to a larger refund.

“If your salary’s reduced, chances are your PAYG statement will show you have moved into another tax bracket, if the income lost is substantial enough,” managing editor Kate Browne told The New Daily. 

I’ve been receiving JobKeeper or JobSeeker. Does this affect my tax return?

Both the $1500-a-fortnight JobKeeper wage subsidy and fortnightly $1100 JobSeeker payments are part of a person’s taxable income and need to be reported to the ATO.

For Australians on JobKeeper, their employer should have already noted those payments on their PAYG summary.

And Australians on JobSeeker should receive an income statement from Centrelink outlining how much they have received, which needs to be lodged when filling out their tax return.

I own property but my rental income’s fallen. How am I affected?

Last year, the Australian Taxation Office singled out property investors for overzealous rent deductions, with roughly 90 percent of rent reduction claims containing an error.

And with the pandemic pushing down rents and driving up vacancy rates, the ATO told The New Daily it will be particularly vigilant this year.

Mr Chapman said landlords who retain tenants (regardless of the amount they pay) can claim expenses on loan interest and management fees, even if they incur a net rental loss.

According to the ATO, those property owners may claim the full amount of their expenses “against your rental and other income – such as salary, wages or business income.”

However, Mr Chapman sounded the alarm for property owners who now live in their rental properties.

“If you made your home your base in lockdown, you would not be able to claim deductions for that period, as it’s become a property for your own personal use,” Mr Chapman said.

What else can I do to maximise my refund?

Investors who sold non-performing shares or managed funds may be able to use a capital loss from those sales to reduce the amount of tax paid on capital gains.

And superannuation accounts can also help lower an overall tax bill.

“If you’re receiving a regular paycheck, making additional personal super contributions can allow [you] to claim tax deductions,” Mr. Godfrey said.

Australians can also make claims on:

  • Gifts or donations that have ‘deductible gift recipient’ status
  • Work-related expenses (such as courses, travel, and equipment) that were not covered by their employer
  • The cost of preparing their tax return.

Employers’ frequently asked JobKeeper questions



Question: What’s the difference between JobKeeper and JobSeeker?

Answer: The JobKeeper scheme supports businesses to retain their employees by contributing to their salary and wages and is administered by the ATO. Eligible businesses are required to register with the ATO to receive these payments for their eligible employees.

JobSeeker payments are a form of income support available to eligible individuals and are administered by Services Australia. These payments are paid directly to the individuals and not to their employers.

Question: I pay my employee $1,400 per fortnight before tax, plus I contribute $133 super per fortnight to meet super guarantee obligations. Does this qualify for the minimum $1,500 payment?

Answer: No. The minimum $1,500 does not include the amount you contribute as super to meet your super guarantee obligations. However, it does include super contributions made under a salary sacrifice arrangement.

Question: Do I need to be registered for GST to qualify for JobKeeper?

Answer: No, you don’t need to be registered for GST, but there are other requirements. See Employers.

Question: I run a business but do not have employees. Am I eligible for JobKeeper payments?

Answer: Yes, you may be eligible for JobKeeper payments where certain conditions are satisfied. See Sole traders and other entities.

Question: Does an employer have to be assessed by the ATO as being eligible before any payments are made?

Answer: Eligibility for JobKeeper payments is a self-assessment process, with the ATO administering the payment. However, if a payment is made and we later determine that the entity was not entitled to that payment (or was entitled to a lesser amount) the entity will be required to repay the overpaid amount.

Question: What if my pay cycles do not correspond with JobKeeper fortnights? Do I have to change my pay cycles?

Answer: You are not required to change your pay cycles to correspond with JobKeeper fortnights. What is important is that you pay your employees at some time during the JobKeeper fortnight.

However, if you usually pay your employees less frequently the payment can be allocated between fortnights in a reasonable manner. For example, if you pay your employees on a monthly cycle, you will still be entitled to receive a JobKeeper payment if your employees received the monthly equivalent of $1,500 per fortnight.

Employee nomination notice

Question: Why do I need to get my employees to fill out the JobKeeper Employee Nomination Notice?

Answer: An employee can only nominate one employer for JobKeeper. The employee must agree to be nominated by you for JobKeeper. If the employee does not complete the nomination notice, you can’t claim JobKeeper for them.

Question: Will the ATO accept a digital self-generated employee nomination notice?

Answer: For practical reasons, an employer may choose to create their own digital employee nomination notice, but it must include key information. See Creating your own employee nomination notice.

Your employee’s signature is not required by the ATO but can be requested by you. Employees can submit their nomination notice to their employer through their internal business process (for example, a business’s HR portal) or their own form of communication channel (for example, an email).


Question: Can businesses qualify for JobKeeper payments after April, for example, if my business experiences a downturn in the future?

Answer: Yes. If you do not satisfy the turnover test for the current month or quarter, you can still assess your eligibility at a later date. To qualify later, the turnover month can be May, June, July, August, or September 2020, provided the fortnight you are qualifying for has ended that month or an earlier month. If the turnover for a quarter is being used, it can be the quarter:

  • from 1 April 2020 to 30 June 2020
  • from 1 July 2020 to 30 September 2020, but only if first seeking to qualify for fortnights ending in July 2020 or later.

Once you satisfy the decline in a turnover test, you do not need to retest again.

Question: Do I have to show that it is COVID-19 that caused a decline in the turnover of my business?

Answer: No. It does not matter whether it is COVID-19 or the subsequent effect on the economy that has caused the drop in turnover, provided the turnover has fallen by the required percentage and you satisfy the other eligibility criteria.

Question: My business suffered a steep decline in turnover in March, but I’ve changed to a new business model and I may build the business up again soon. Does this mean I lose JobKeeper?

Answer: No. You only need to satisfy the decline in a turnover test once to be entitled to JobKeeper. For example, satisfying it for March 2020 (compared in March 2019) is sufficient, even if your business recovers to previous levels after this.

There are ongoing reporting obligations for current and projected GST turnover, but even where these show a recovery of turnover they don’t affect eligibility.

Question: What happens if my predicted fall in turnover happens to be incorrect, so that the fall ends up being less than the 30% or 50%?

Answer: This does not necessarily mean you are ineligible for JobKeeper.

Your projected GST turnover is a point-in-time test and needs to be a reasonable assessment of what was likely at the time you calculated the test. If, at a later stage, it eventuates that your actual turnover for your test period is greater than your prediction of your projected turnover, you do not lose access to JobKeeper. We will accept your assessment of these turnovers unless we have reason to believe that your calculation of your projected GST turnover was not reasonable.

If there is a significant difference between your projected turnover and what eventuates, we may need to assess whether your assessment was reasonable, so you need to keep good records of your calculations.

Integrity rules are in place to deny or reduce an entitlement to JobKeeper payments if schemes are contrived to ensure payment conditions are satisfied, such as temporarily reducing or deferring turnover. Exceeding your turnover predictions by itself does not trigger these integrity rules.

Our compliance focus will be particularly directed toward schemes where there has not been a genuine fall in turnover in substance, but arrangements are contrived to ensure the turnover test is satisfied.

ATO tax return: Tax Office reveals new working from home expenses rules

Source :

The tax office has announced special arrangements this year – and it affects everyone working from home due to the coronavirus crisis.

The Australian Taxation Office has made a major change this year as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

With countless Australians now working form home in a bid to slow the spread of the virus, the ATO is rolling out a new working from home shortcut to make it easier for people to claim deductions.

The special new arrangement will allow people to claim a rate of 80 cents per hour for all their running expenses, instead of calculating costs for specific running expenses as taxpayers would under normal circumstances.

Multiple people living in the same house can claim this new rate individually, and it is no longer a requirement to have a dedicated work from home area in order to claim.

Assistant Commissioner Karen Foat said the new shortcut method – which will be in place from March 1 to June 30 – will 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,” Ms Foat 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.”

This new shortcut arrangement does not stop people from making a working from home claim under the existing arrangements, which involves calculating all or part of your running expenses.

Claims for working from home expenses prior to March 1 can’t be calculated using the shortcut method, and must use the pre-existing working from home approach and requirements.

The ATO will review the special arrangement for the next financial year as the COVID-19 situation progresses.

Taxpayers will be able to choose one of three ways to calculate their additional running expenses for the period.

They include claiming a rate of 80 cents per work hour for all additional running expenses, claiming a rate of 52 cents per work hour for heating, cooling, lighting, cleaning and the decline in value of office furniture, plus calculate the work-related portion of your phone and internet expenses, computer consumables, stationery and the decline in value of a computer, laptop or similar device, or claiming the actual work-related portion of all your running expenses, which you need to calculate on a reasonable basis.

The ATO is also reminding people the three “golden rules” for deductions still apply.

That means taxpayers must have spent the money themselves and not have been reimbursed, the claim must be directly related to earning income, and there must be a record to substantiate the claim.

Last month, the ATO revealed hundreds of thousands of Australians were set to receive a stern warning as the body takes on cryptocurrency traders.

The ATO is in the process of contacting up to 350,000 individuals either by letter or email to “remind them” of their taxation obligations when they trade in cryptocurrency, such as bitcoin.

Cryptocurrencies are considered to be a form of property and therefore an asset for capital gains tax purposes.

That means any financial gains made from the buying and selling of cryptocurrencies will generally be subject to capital gains tax and must be reported to the ATO.

Government announces a $66 billion second coronavirus stimulus: What’s available to small businesses, and how do I claim it?


Just 10 days after announcing its coronavirus stimulus package, the Morrison government has released a second, beefed-up and more robust version.

The new $66.1 billion economic plan bolsters the measures of the first $17.6 billion pledge and is intended to help small businesses stay afloat, and keep people employed until the coronavirus-related economic downturn has passed.

So far, the government claims it has allocated some $189 billion to economic stimulus, to stave off the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes the two stimulus packages, a $90 billion debt facility from the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), and a $15 billion facility for non-bank lenders.

In total, that equates to about 10% of Australia’s annual GDP, the government says.

With the most recent announcement, however, the PM appears to be leaving his options open, suggesting there could be yet more room for yet more expansion to these economic measures.

For the time being, a package of bills to enact the latest measures is being introduced into parliament today for urgent consideration. It is not expected to be opposed.

Here’s a roundup of everything on offer to small businesses so far.

$100,000 grants

The government’s first stimulus package, released on March 12, introduced grants of up to $25,000 for eligible small and medium businesses that have employees.

The latest stimulus package has increased the upper limit of those grants to $50,000. Businesses will now also receive the grants twice, meaning businesses could be eligible to receive up to $100,000.

This booster will be available to businesses with an aggregated annual turnover of less than $50 million, and that have employees. It is also available to not-for-profits and charities.

The size of the grant is based on tax withheld on employees’ wages, and calculated automatically from businesses’ business accounts statements.

Previously, businesses would have been able to reclaim 50% of tax withheld. That has now been increased to 100%, to a maximum of $50,000 per payment.

The minimum payment has also increased from $2,000 to $10,000 per payment.

So, for example, if a business pays $2,000 in PAYG tax on employee wages, it will receive a grant of $10,000 twice, for a total of $20,000.

If the business pays $50,000 or more in PAYG, it will receive the maximum grant of $50,000 for the current period, and again in October, for a total of $100,000.

The measure is intended to allow them to keep staff, and also continue to pay rent and bills.

The first wave of payments are expected to start from April 28, and the second wave from June 21.

Encouraging investment

Instant asset write-off

As part of the first stimulus package, the government expanded the instant asset write-off scheme. This included increasing the threshold from $30,000 to $150,000, and including businesses with an aggregated annual turnover of less than $500 million (previously, this was limited to $50 million).

This measure still stands, and has not been updated.

The expanded instant asset write-off scheme is valid now, until June 30, 2020, to be included in tax returns for the 2019-20 financial year.

Encouraging investment

The government is also accelerating depreciation deductions for new assets purchased, effective immediately.

For the next 15 months, until June 30, 2021, businesses will be able to deduct 50% of the cost of an eligible asset on installation. Existing depreciation rules will apply to the full cost of the asset.

Businesses with an annual turnover of less than $500 million will be eligible for this measure, intended to encourage businesses to invest.

Access to credit

RBA and federal bank funding

Last week, the RBA announced a $90 billion term funding facility for banks, with the directive that banks should use it to lend to SMEs.

The amount banks are eligible to borrow will depend on how much they lend out to businesses. For every $1 they lend to small business customers, they will be eligible for an additional $5 in funding themselves.

At the same time, the federal government announced its own $15 billion funding facility for non-bank lenders, also intended to encourage lending to small businesses.

You can read more about these measures here.

SME guarantee scheme

Under a new SME coronavirus guarantee scheme, the government has pledged to guarantee 50% of new short-term, unsecured loans to small and medium businesses.

The government will guarantee up to $40 billion in new lending, in a bid to further encourage new credit to SMEs.

In addition, for lenders providing credit to SMEs, the government is providing a temporary exemption from responsible lending obligations, meaning small business owners could access cash more quickly and efficiently.

Pause on small business loan repayments

There is also a relief for small businesses already repaying loans. On Friday, the Australian Banking Association announced Aussie banks are pressing pause on repayments for small business loans.

This is expected to apply to more than $100 billion in existing loans and could return up to $8 billion to Australian businesses.

You can read more about this measure here.

Bankruptcy protection

The federal government has temporarily raised the threshold for creditors to issue a statutory demand on a company from $2,000 to $20,000, for six months.

It has also increased the time allowed for a company to respond to statutory demands from 21 days to six months. This also applies for six months.

For individuals, the threshold for initiating bankruptcy proceedings has increased from $5,000 to $20,000, and the time allowed for an individual to respond has increased from 21 days to six months. Again, this applies for six months.

The government is also offering temporary relief for directors from personal liability for trading while insolvent, for six months.

It is also working on temporary changes to the Corporations Act 2001, allowing for more flexibility for businesses dealing with unforeseen events that may have arisen as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Tax relief

The ATO has said it will offer tax relief to small businesses affected by the outbreak.

Last week, commissioner of taxation Chris Jordan called on businesses to contact the ATO, in order to access a tailored support plan.

Options include deferrals of payments, income tax assessments, temporary reduction of payments, and withholding of enforcement actions such as director penalty notices and wind-ups.

You can read more about this measure here.

Apprentices and trainees

The government has pledged to help small businesses retain apprentices and trainees, offering a wage subsidy of 50% of their wages for the nine months from January 1 to September 30, 2020.

Eligible businesses will be able to claim up to a maximum of $21,000 per apprentice, or $7,000 per quarter.

This measure was announced in the first stimulus package and has not been updated.

It is currently not clear which businesses will be eligible for this funding, but the government will be accepting applications for this funding from early-April.

Support for affected regions

The federal government has also set aside $1 billion to support businesses in regions that have been worst affected by the coronavirus crisis.

Funding will be available during the outbreak and in the recovery period. However, it is unclear which businesses will be eligible for funding, or how they can apply for it.

According to a government release, assistance for this measure will be available “as soon as practicable”.

Income support

Individual cash payments

Finally, the government has implemented a number of income support measures in a bid to get money into people’s pockets and encourage consumers to keep spending.

Notably, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg suggested these measures will apply to sole traders and casual workers who earn under a certain amount, fortnightly. However, it is currently unclear what the eligibility threshold is.

For six months from April 27, the government will expand eligibility for income support payments.

It is also issuing a new temporary coronavirus supplement to existing and new recipients of various jobseeker payments and other allowances. This will be paid at $550 per fortnight, for the next six months.

Recipients of social security, veteran support and income support, and various other concession card holders, will also receive a one-off cash payment of $750 each. Payments will start being made from March 31.

A second payment will also be made to these recipients, starting from July 13. However, the second payment will not be available to those eligible for the $550 coronavirus supplement.


Individuals affected by the coronavirus will be able to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation before the end of the financial year, and another $10,000 in the coming financial year.

Money withdrawn will not be taxed, and can be in addition to Centrelink or Veterans’ Affairs payments.

Applications for early withdrawals are expected to open in mid-April.

Victorian government to refund payroll tax and establish business support fund in $1.7 billion response to COVID-19


The Victorian government will begin refunding payroll tax payments to small and medium businesses across the state this week as part of its $1.7 billion economic stimulus package in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and Treasurer Tim Pallas outlined the measures on Saturday in what they said is a stimulus package targeted directly at SMEs and the workers they employ.

The government has pledged to fully refund the payroll tax already paid by small and medium businesses in the 2019-2020 financial year, in a measure estimated to be worth $550 million.

To be eligible for the refunds, businesses must have a payroll of less than $3 million. The payments will begin this coming week and the government said businesses could save up to $113,975 a year.

The government estimates the average saving to a business will be $23,000 and specified that the payments are a refund, not a loan.

In Victoria, the annual payroll tax threshold is $650,000, and the current rate is 4.85%, except for regional employers, which pay a reduced rate of 2.425%.

Small and medium businesses will also be able to defer any payroll tax payments for the first three months of the 2020-2021 financial year, up until January 2021, which the government said will contribute an additional $83 million back into the business community.

“We’ve listened to business and workers and now we’re taking unique and unprecedented action to help businesses and their workers through the crisis,” Andrews said.

“Cash is better in the hands of struggling businesses than in a government bank account right now; Victorian workers need us to step up to help get them through.”

Victoria joins New South WalesQueenslandTasmania and Western Australia in offering payroll tax relief to businesses affected by the escalating economic crisis.

Speaking to SmartCompany last week, Melbourne business owner Adam Pope said relief from payroll tax would “absolutely benefit” his company, although he added that, at a few thousand dollars a month, the total savings from not having to pay the tax would not be “huge”.

Supplier invoices to be paid quickly, business support fund established

In a series of additional measures designed to alleviate the financial pressures now facing Victorian businesses, the state government also said:

  • It will allow commercial tenants in government buildings to apply for rent relief;
  • Eligible businesses will have their 2020 land tax payments deferred;
  • The government will pay all outstanding supplier invoices within five business days; and
  • Liquor licensing fees will be waived for 2020 for affected businesses.

Businesses in the hospitality, tourism, accommodation, arts, entertainment and retail sectors may also receive additional assistance through a new business support fund to be established by the Victorian government.

While details are yet to be released about what kinds of financial support will be made possible through this fund, the government said it will be administered in partnership with the Australian Industry Group, the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Australian Hotels Association. The government said the fund will support businesses that may not be eligible for payroll tax refunds because their payrolls exceed $3 million.

Businesses can register their interest in the fund by filling out this online form.

An additional $500 million will be used to establish a working for Victoria fund to find employment for workers who have lost their jobs because of the coronavirus pandemic. This fund will be established in consultation with the Victorian Council of Social Services and the Victorian Trades Hall Council.

The Ai Group strongly welcomed the stimulus measures in a statement on the weekend, with Tim Piper, the group’s Victorian head, describing the payroll tax refunds as “significant”.

“The announcement recognizes the crisis conditions many small companies in Victoria are already experiencing,” he said.

“Discussions with the Treasurer have been positive, with the government recognizing the intensely difficult position for employers and it has committed to providing ongoing support.”

Remote area tax concessions and payments should be overhauled

The Productivity Commission has called for significant reforms to the tax concessions and payments for residents and businesses in remote Australia as they are “outdated, inequitable and poorly designed”.

Its draft report assessed the zone tax offset (ZTO), the remote area allowance (RAA) and the fringe benefits tax (FBT) remote area concessions.

The Commission recommended the abolition of the ZTO as it is an “ineffective and blunt instrument”. There is no general role for the government to compensate taxpayers for the disadvantages of life in particular areas. Were it to be retained, the ZTO would need to be overhauled.

The RAA is a small supplementary payment directed to people on income support in remote areas. It has a legitimate role but needs a “refresh”, with boundaries updated to contemporary measures of remoteness, payment rates reviewed and transparency enhanced.

Finally, FBT remote area concessions are “overly generous and complex”. They should be redesigned to adhere to the fundamental principle of equitable tax treatment while reducing the cost burden on taxpayers. Most importantly, concessions on employer-provided housing should change. The current exemption should be reverted to a 50% concession (as it was prior to 2000), and provisions allowing employers to claim housing exemptions solely because it is “customary” to do so should be removed.

The closing date for comments on the draft report is 11 October 2019.

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