A real estate agent’s guide to tax deductions

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Keeping thorough records of work-related expenses can save you loads of cash come tax time.

In fact, eTax revealed that real estate agents topped the list of Australian occupations when it comes to claiming the most tax deductions. Real estate agents on average claim $8,634 on annual tax returns, compared to the average Aussie who claims $3,041.

This is put down to the nature of working as a real estate agent where a lot of work-related expenses are incurred day to day that the employer typically doesn’t offset.

We’ve put together a short list of the most common deductible expenses you may be entitled to claim on your 2017-18 tax return, so you don’t miss anything this tax time.

Remember to make any of the following claims you MUST have personally spent the cash and not been reimbursed, the expense is directly related to earning your income and you have the records to prove it. 

Some great apps that’ll make record keeping that bit easier for next financial year-

 Image: Mileage Logbook
Image: Mileage Logbook

Maximise your tax return by claiming any of the below expenses you’ve accrued-

Travel

You can claim public transport fares and running costs of a car for trips between two places of work (i.e. inspections and the office), but not for journeys to and from work and home. To keep track of your travel expenses you can use the cents per kilometre method or keep a logbook to track distances travelled for work.

Travel expenses can also include meals and accommodation for work duties, and a portion of petrol, car services, car wash, registration, tolls and parking costs.

Home office

If you work from home you can claim a number of home office expenses. Any work-related items that cost less than $300 can be claimed as a deduction (i.e. stationary, ink cartridges and printers). For work-related items that cost more than $300 you claim a deduction based on the decline in its value over time (i.e. office furniture and computers).

You can also claim a percentage of the running costs of your home office (i.e. electricity for lighting, heating and cooling, work-related phone costs and internet). However, you can’t claim your mortgage, rent or insurance costs.

 For sale:  124A Stock Road, Attadale, WA
For sale: 124A Stock Road, Attadale, WA

Clothing

To claim any clothing related expenses (including purchases, laundry, mending and dry cleaning) they must be related to a compulsory uniform or corporate wardrobe which bears a business logo that is unique and distinctive to your employer (such as a tie, shirt or blazer).

This is where a lot of people trip up and attempt to claim expenses they’re not entitled to. Just a reminder you can’t claim cosmetics, haircuts, grooming products or the cost to buy or clean plain clothing that you only wear to work.

If you’re claiming clothing remember to keep evidence including receipts and how you calculated the claim.

Gifts

You can claim deductions on gifts (e.g. wine, flowers and hampers) & greeting cards for clients, but only if you earn income from commission. Note: You can’t claim deductions for entertainment gifts (e.g. sporting events, movie tickets or holiday vouchers), so be strategic when choosing your settlement gifts!

Other commonly overlooked deductions-

  • Property presentation costs (cushions, plants, flowers etc.).

  • Professional publication subscriptions and reading materials (e.g. Elite Agent Magazine or newspapers with property sections).

  • Work-related phone expenses.

  • Annual renewal of Certificate of Registration (except for the initial Certificate of Registration).

  • Briefcases or handbags used primarily to carry work-related items.

  • A portion of fees for education, conferences and training.

  • Tax agent fees.

We hope these tips help you maximise your tax return and prevent you from missing any work-related expenses from last financial year.

Disclaimer: This is only a general guide to common deductions real estate agents make at tax time and is not intended as a substitute for financial advice. Check out ato.gov.au and consult with an accountant or tax agent to check the finer details of your tax return if you’re unsure about what records are required to make certain deductions.

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Larissa Gardner
Larissa Gardner
Larissa Gardner is the Marketing Manager at arguably Australia’s best looking real estate website homely.com.au. With a superb devotion to product innovation, user-centred design and innovative marketing platforms for real estate agents, homely.com.au helps millions of Australians find their next home.

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