Here’s how to maximise your 2021 tax returns

Not all careers are equal in the eyes of the tax system, with workers in certain industries able to tap into a jackpot of tax perks if they stay on top of their expenses.

“It’s true, not all jobs are created equal,” CPA accountant, Coco Hou, said in a recent statement.

According to the managing director of Platinum Accounting Australia, when it comes to some careers, even side gigs, the tax perks can completely outweigh others.

“The shocking thing is that far too many people who work in these unusual tax return industries do not know even the gold pot they’re sitting on.

“A number of these industries allow workers to claim tax on niche and industry-specific things that aren’t commonly discussed across the board,” Ms Hou added.

The general rule, she explained, is that if an employee incurs an expense as part of their job and they aren’t reimbursed by their employer, they are entitled to make a claim on those work-related items.

Ms Hou hinted that the following four careers could have access to some unexpected deductions come 30 June.


According to Ms Hou, construction and manufacturing workers can hit the absolute jackpot with tax perks if they are sure to keep track of all of their expenses throughout the year.

“When it comes to their tools, or other industry-specific equipment, that are required to complete their job, they can claim an immediate deduction costing up to $300. It is not widely known either, that trades can claim a deduction on the interest charged on financing equipment, as well as on the cost of insuring them,” Ms Hou added.

According to the expert, another extraordinarily under-celebrated tax perk in an industry that is notorious for overtime hours, is that trades can claim for overtime meal expenses when they receive an overtime meal allowance.

“Other expenses to keep in mind for tax time include trade union fees, the fees associated with renewing professional licences, registrations and subscriptions, and self-education courses that are related to their career at university or TAFE.”


Ms Hou revealed that one of the key things teachers miss in their deductions is the depreciation on technology like computers, laptops, printers, mobile phones and tablets that are more than $300.

“Any of these personal devices that are used for work purposes are absolutely eligible for deductions – talk about a tax perk,” Ms Hou explained.

“Most teachers prepare lessons and mark homework while at home, so I would urge them to claim home office expenses, such as utility bills and internet costs. Any stationery, pens, printer cartridges or art materials that they are not reimbursed by the school for are all tax deductible as well.”

Ms Hou reminded that teachers can also receive tax perks on conferences, excursions and courses linked to their career, as well as travel, textbook, meal and accommodation costs that come out of their own pocket.

Retail workers

Retail workers can claim the cost of travel from one work location to another. As such, Ms Hou’s advice is to keep a log of all of the work-related trips they take to claim a deduction.

“If staff are required to wear a uniform that has the business’s logo on it, you are also able to deduct the expenses from buying and maintaining those pieces.

“While a plain shirt would not qualify, a plain white shirt embroidered with the workplace name absolutely would. Any protective equipment associated with the role can also be claimed under the same guise, including sunscreen, helmets and safety goggles,” Ms Hou said.

Office-based staff

“Handbag lovers rejoice! If a handbag or briefcase is required for work practices like carrying paperwork or a laptop, the cost of it is absolutely claimable for office workers,” Ms Hou said.

She warned, however, that the Australian Taxation Office may not be as receptive to a $2,000 Louis Vuitton bag as a $200 classic leather piece.

Another tax perk for office workers is the cost of parking, tolls and public transport costs for their cars on work-related journeys.

On the other hand, if workers find themselves working from home, they can still make claims on a proportion of home office running expenses based on the actual costs or at 52 cents per hour.

But the most important thing for any worker looking for tax deductions is simply to keep records.

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