Let’s get something out of the way first of all. In order to claim tax deductions, you must have earned money and paid tax to the ATO. So, if you’re a full-time student and don’t have a job, then you are not eligible to claim deductions and can go back to enjoying your life without finishing this article.
On the other hand, if you’re studying as well as working full-time, then you may be eligible for some substantial deductions. So let’s talk about eligibility.
Firstly, your area of study must be directly linked to your existing profession. In other words, if you are a florist, then you probably won’t be able to claim for the expenses related to your degree in Horology. Look it up; it’s not what you think.
In order to claim, you only need to satisfy one of following criteria –
- You’re improving your academic qualifications for the job you already have during your studies.
- You’re developing your knowledge or skills for your current position.
- You’re a trainee, and your self-education course is part of the traineeship.
- You can show that your course, qualification or degree can lead to an increase in income within your current employment.
So if you are a civil engineer and changing career paths, you can’t claim for costs associated with your Bakery Science Degree (actually a thing). This also applies to undergraduates who are working in an industry that is not associated with their future career. No, bartending is not counselling. Well, it is, but not in the eyes of the ATO.
So what can you claim for? Now that you’re satisfied the criteria, it’s time to work out what, out of the myriad of student expenses you’ve forked out for, will be deductible. The good news is, the list is long.
That laptop you use for writing reports is deductible and can be depreciated. So are your tuition fees and textbooks, along with any stationary you may have purchased. Other fees, such as Union subs are also claimable.
You can’t claim for accommodation or HECS repayments, and it’s really important you produce receipts for everything because as you are claiming for university costs, the ATO thinks that you should have easy access to them. This is obviously true for things like tuition costs, where you can request a copy of your receipt from the administration department, but stationary and other bits and pieces are more difficult.
Grab a box and put all your receipts in the same place. Don’t have a box? Ask someone who is completing a Certificate 4 in Custom-Made Footwear; they’re bound to have a spare shoebox.
A couple of other points – if you are on a Student Visa, and have earned money within your restrictions of work, you still need to lodge a tax return. Also, the first $250 of expenses is usually non-deductible. So, for the sake of simplicity, if you were claiming a total amount of a thousand dollars ($500 in fees, and $500 in textbooks) then you would deduct $250 from this amount as claimable.
Now, get back to studying. Those degrees aren’t going to earn themselves!