Tax Tips for Fly-in Fly-out Employees
Employees who work away from home for a number of days on a regular and rotational basis and return to normal residence for a few days off that are not the same days in consecutive weeks are normally regarded as fly-in fly-out or drive-in drive-out employees. Typical example would be mining professionals and workers.
It is noticeable that FIFO employees may be eligible for a wider range of tax deductions than normal taxpayers. The following tips will give you a general idea about what you can claim when preparing your tax return.
You can’t claim the travel expenses incurred between your home and the departure spot appointed under your FIFO arrangements. Refer to ATO guidelines on travel expenses.
Working in remote area
From 1 July 2015, to claim the zone tax offset your usual place of residence needs to be both:
- a remote or isolated area (known as a zone)
- your residence for 183 days or more during the income year.
If your usual place of residence was in a zone for less than 183 days in the income year, you may still be able to claim the tax offset. If your usual place of residence was in a zone for a continuous period of less than five years and:
- you were unable to claim in the first year because it was not your residence for 183 days or more
- the total of the days you lived there in the first year and the current income year is 183 days or more
- the period you lived in a zone in the current income year includes the first day of the income year.
If you work in a foreign country for certain period of time, your income is still subject to Australian tax law. Plus you have consider the local tax law by seek advice from local tax agent.
You can claim self-education expenses for courses or university study or tafe courses if they will improve your current performance and working skills and the expenses are not reimbursed by your employer. But pre-vocational courses expenses are not qualified for deductions. Also, if you are required to take seminars or workshops away from you work place, the cost of travel, accommodation and meals may be deductible.
Telephone bills, handset rental and internet fee
If you make work-related phone calls using your own mobile, you can claim a portion of your phone bills according to the percentage you use for work and private. It also applies to line and handset rental costs and internet fees if you sometime work at home sending email or doing online training, but you need to prove how you split the costs between work and private use.
Tools and equipment
Tools used for work include a number of things such as logbooks, laptops, GPS, diaries, etc. that you need to carry when FIFO and you may also claim for work-related books, magazines and journals. For equipment, an immediate deduction is allowed for cost less than $300. If it is more $300, you can claim a decline in value in later periods.
Cost of normal clothes like shirts and jeans is not for tax deduction, but for the cost of clothes you are required to wear during work time like uniform or protective clothing to protect you in working environment, you are eligible to claim. Apart from that, you may also claim for dry cleaning and laundry expense. If you always work outside, other deductions like sunscreen, sunglasses and hats may be claimed but are normally overlooked.
Licences and tickets
You can not claim deduction on your normal licence, but you can claim on further tickets and renewal fees if they are necessary to perform your current role.
Above are some particular deductible items that FIFO employees should pay more attention to when they do their tax returns. For the rest of taxpayers, there are general deductible items like work-related car expenses, gifts and donations, income protection, medical expenses and even tax agent fees. But one thing need to be remembered that you need to keep as much record as you can, including invoice and receipts, as evidence to support your tax deductions, and seek advice from registered tax agents if you are not sure about what are your incomes and deductions.
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