Tax Tips for Teachers and Education Professionals

Posted on April 05, 2022

If you are a teacher or educator, it’s worth learning how to maximise your tax return. In Australia, there are a number of deductions and tax advantages specifically for teachers and people working in education that can make a difference to your final return.

There are over 1 million teachers and education professionals in Australia. This includes early childhood, primary and secondary teachers, tertiary lecturers and tutors, education aides, private tutors, VET trainers, sports coaches and people who work in administration and policy roles.

Our team of tax accountants at JSA are specialists in preparing tax returns for all education professionals. We help hundreds of teachers and educators maximise their tax returns every year with our specialist knowledge.

This handy guide outlines some of the work-related expenses you can and can’t claim as deductions. It is a good starting point to make sure you are in the best position to make the most of your return at tax time. In addition, the JSA tax team are here to answer your tax questions and help prepare your return.

Three golden rules

Before we jump in to what you can and can’t claim, we must first talk about the three golden rules for deductions. You can only claim work-related expenses that meet the following criteria:

  1. You must have spent the money yourself (and weren’t reimbursed)
  2. The expense must directly relate to earning your income
  3. You must have a record to prove it (usually a receipt)

Keep your receipts

To make the most of your tax return, it’s important to be organised and keep a record of your work-related expenses throughout the year. If you have incurred an expense related to earning your income, keep the receipt just in case. Then, when tax time comes around, we can tell you if it’s deductible. If you get in the habit of keeping receipts, at least you will have the opportunity to claim the expense if it is eligible.

Teacher specific deductions

In Australia, the ATO allows for special deductions for certain occupations and industries. Here are some of the most common occupation-specific deductions allowable for teachers.

Ways to minimise your tax obligations include:

  • Self-education expenses that specifically relate to your current job.
  • Home office expenses if you work from home, including marking, planning and report writing.
  • Tools and equipment purchased specifically for your work, including laptops, mobile phones, bags for carrying student papers and reports.
  • Expenses for your car in specific circumstances.
  • The cost of buying or hiring teaching aids.

Common mistakes in claiming deductions

There are a few common mistakes that education professionals make in their tax returns. Be careful not to get caught out at tax time:

  • You cannot claim the cost of buying gifts for students or paying for their personal expenses such as lunch or excursion fees.
  • You can only claim self-education expenses if it is directly related to your current job. Training and courses that are only generally related to your job or that you undertake to help you get a new job are not claimable deductions.
  • You can claim a deduction for the cost of buying, hiring, mending, and cleaning uniforms or items that are unique and distinctive to your job or protective clothing that you are required to wear. However, ‘every day’ clothing, including footwear, cannot be claimed even if your employer requires you to wear it at work.
  • ‘Standard deductions’ are not a thing. Your deductions still need to be calculated on a reasonable basis, and you must be able to show that it was related to earning your income as an education professional.

Items you may not know you can claim

Teachers sometimes incur expenses that they do not realise they can claim. You can give your tax return a boost with the following deductions:

  • You can claim expenses incurred when taking students on excursions, camps, sporting and educational trips so long as they are directly related to the curriculum.
  • You can claim car expenses if you drive between workplaces for the same employer, on the same day or if you need to transport equipment.
  • Teachers can claim for protective equipment, including sunglasses, hats and sunscreen that they use at work.
  • First aid courses are a claimable deduction for teachers
  • Union membership and professional association fees

JSA Tax Accountants are the experts for education professionals

We know that education professionals already have a lot on their plate, and your tax return might be a low priority. But we want you to get the most out of your tax return. Our team of tax accountants specialise in preparing tax returns for teachers and people working in education.

We can help you finalise your tax return no matter where you are in Australia. At JSA, we offer out of hours appointments, and we can even prepare your tax return over the phone or by email. We’re here to make tax time stress-free for teachers and education professionals.

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