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Brush up on what you need to know come the end of the financial year, and you’ll be laughing all the way to your accountant.

Prepare for your tax return

If you're running a business, that old cliché about working smarter, not harder, is just as true when it comes to filling out your tax return. It makes sense to educate yourself about the tax breaks to which you're entitled.

Smarten up, cash in

This is a general overview and not meant to cover every last point of what you can and can't claim. The ATO has developed information just for tradies on its website or you can speak to a registered tax agent. And just remember, if you pay for something that you use for business and pleasure, you can only claim for the bits that are business related.

Driving ambition

You can claim some expenses for motor vehicles used in running your business. But note that if you use the vehicle for both business and private use (like taking the kids to school or driving on holiday) you can’t claim anything that relates to your private use. The ATO website has more detail on what expenses you can claim and what information you need to keep.

The usual suspects

You probably know you can claim tools, equipment and other assets that you purchase to earn your income. This can include not only your angle grinder and wheels, but also the paint along with the brushes. Fasteners, guttering and generally any other items that you have purchased for a job in order to get paid will fall into this category. You may even be able to immediately deduct all of the cost of some of your bigger business assets this year, under one of the tax measures for small business. You can find more information from the ATO website.

Clothes off your back

While you can’t claim ‘ordinary’ clothes like jeans and general workwear, you can claim for protective gear including hi-vis garments, safety boots and goggles. You can also claim sun-protection items including hats, sunscreen and sunglasses that you use while working outdoors.

Tech talk

If you use a tablet or laptop to do your drafting and record-keeping, the business-related element is a claimable expense. The stationery, desk and other office equipment you use for running your business – even if it’s in the corner of your study at home – can also be written off. And don’t forget to claim other equipment such as a clipboard organiser or safe case that you use to keep your tech out of trouble at the worksite. But remember: if it isn’t business related, you can’t claim it. 

Intangible, but valuable

You can claim the cost of any upskilling that is directly related to your existing business – for example, if you need to take an online course about CAD software. Journals and publications you need for work are deductible, so if you’ve paid for access to Australian Standards, get your money’s worth. You can also claim when you renew permits and licences, as well as services that are directly related to your work, including laundry or drycleaning costs (of your protective clothing, for example), and getting your tax done by a registered tax agent. 

Speak easy

Business-related phone calls and internet use can be claimed as tax deductions. Instead of trying to fudge the percentage of how many calls you make for work, just get a tough mobile for work with its own SIM – it will make life so much easier. Plus you won’t get clients calling you on your personal number. 

Generosity pays

You won’t be able to claim a sausage roll from the servo but, if you pay for a new (and not a potential) client’s lunch (for example sandwiches) during a business meeting to discuss that big reno, keep the receipt. If you’ve got a big heart and support a charity that is registered as a deductible gift recipient (DGR), you can claim your donations. Buying raffle tickets or contributing to your mate’s flood relief crowdfunding does not count, though. 

The information in this article is general in nature and is intended for small business operators only, not employees of businesses. It doesn’t take into account your specific financial position, needs or circumstances. As with any major project, you should look at your own financial position, objectives and requirements and seek professional advice before making any financial decisions. 

Running a business?

Take note of our useful bookkeeping tips that will make tax time a breeze.


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Health & Safety

Asbestos, lead-based paints and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber are health hazards you need to look out for when renovating older homes. These substances can easily be disturbed when renovating and exposure to them can cause a range of life-threatening diseases and conditions including cancer. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page.

When following our advice in our D.I.Y. videos, make sure you use all equipment, including PPE, safely by following the manufacturer’s instructions. Check that the equipment is suitable for the task and that PPE fits properly. If you are unsure, hire an expert to do the job or talk to a Bunnings Team Member.