As a professional still or video photographer, it's not all glamour all the time!
Tramping around in hot, cold and/or wet weather carrying bulky equipment, spending hours alone editing the day's shoot, creative blocks....completing your tax return is probably the last thing on your mind!
But as a professional photographer, there are quite a lot of things you can claim as deductions. Read on below for our summary of what you may and may not be able to claim (please note, this is general information only, and everyone's situation is different. If you'd like to get professional tax advice, we recommend you come in and talk to us, or see another registered Tax Agent to discuss your particular situation).
- The cost of work-related short training courses, for example feature writing, research, specialist photography areas, first aid, OH&S, computer skills or management, which are not run by a University or TAFE (you can also claim for the cost of travelling to and from the course and any accommodation and meal expenses if you are required to stay away overnight)
- The cost of self-education course run by a University (not including HECS/HELP fees) or TAFE (provided it relates directly to your current work). If you are studying, you can also claim for the cost of books, stationery, equipment and travel required for your course
WORK TOOLS AND EQUIPMENT
- The cost of buying and repairing equipment you use at work, including cameras, lenses, filters, electronic organisers, laptop computers and mobile phones
- The cost of any materials or supplies that you buy for use at work, for example memory cards, USB sticks, stationery, diary, camera bag or briefcase, props (e.g. toys for children to try and get them look a particular way - watch the birdie!)
MEALS AND TRAVEL
- The cost of buying meals when you work overtime, provided you have been paid an allowance by your employer (you can claim for your meals without having to keep any receipts, provided you can show how you have calculated the amount you spent)
- The cost of meals and incidental expenses when you are required to stay away overnight (if you receive an allowance from your employer, you can claim the full amount of that allowance provided it is shown on your PAYG payment summary). If you didn’t receive an allowance, you should keep receipts to prove the amount you have spent on all meals and accommodation
- The cost of parking, tolls, taxis and public transport if you are required to travel to jobs, attend seminars, meetings and training courses (if you need to stay away overnight you can also claim for the cost of all meals and your accommodation)
- The cost of using your own car for work, including travel to jobs, attend meetings or training courses. If you use your car for work and travel less than 5,000 km per annum you can claim a rebate based on a cents-per-kilometre amount. If you travel more than 5,000km you need to keep a log.
- The cost of buying compulsory uniforms (including shirts, pants, skirts, jackets, jumpers – your uniform should have the business’s logo on it to ensure it is tax deductible). Conventional clothing is NOT deductible, even if your employer tells you to wear a certain style or quality of clothing
- The cost of laundry, dry cleaning, alterations or repairs of your uniforms
- The cost of buying sun protection items if you are required to work outside at least part of the time (including sun glasses, hats and sunscreen)
OTHER WORK EXPENSES
- The cost of annual association membership fees
- The cost of work-related magazines, journals or books (these could include journalism, general photography, industry publications or resources purchased for research into a particular job)
- The cost of purchasing newspapers used to research a topic or story
- The cost of the work-related portion of your pay TV rental, where it is used for research in your job
- The cost of work-related mobile or home telephone calls and rental (you should keep a diary record of the number of phone calls you make for work for one month and then we can use that to estimate your usage for the whole year)
- The cost of work-related internet connection fees (you can only claim the proportion of your monthly fees that relate to work use, which could include emailing or research relating to your job or training)
- The cost of maintaining a home office if you are required to complete work at home (you should keep a diary to record how many hours per week you spend working from your home office)
- The cost of attending social functions or events, where you are required to attend by your employer and you photograph that particular function
- Costs incurred for Research, this may include Photography exhibitions, but may also include travel expenses/entry fees for training and research.
There are some tax deductions that all employees can claim on their personal tax returns:
- The amount of any donations to registered charities (as long as you haven’t received anything in return for your donation, such as raffle tickets or novelty items)
- The cost of bank fees charged on any investment accounts
- The cost of income protection or sickness and accident insurance premiums (this type of insurance covers you if you hurt yourself (including when you are not at work) or become sick and you are unable to work. It will pay you your normal wage until you are fit to return to work)
- Your tax agent fees (the amount you pay to your accountant to prepare your tax return each year)
- The cost of travelling to see your tax agent (you can claim the cost of travelling to see your accountant to have your tax return prepared. You should keep a record of the number of kilometres you travel and any other incidental costs such as parking, meals, accommodation etc)
We suggest that you keep receipts for all purchases that are work related, even if they are not listed above. That way, when we prepare your tax return, we can decide whether you are allowed to claim a tax deduction for them or not.