COVID-19 factors to remember when filing your tax return

The end of the financial year has rolled around again, but this time, COVID-19 may affect the way you fill out your tax return. The ATO has released a range of methods to make tax time easier for businesses and individuals experiencing unprecedented circumstances.

How JobKeeper will affect tax returns

Sole traders receiving JobKeeper payments on behalf of their business are required to include these payments as assessable income for the business. Employees receiving JobKeeper will see that those payments have been automatically filled out in their tax return.

Individuals who have had their wages increase due to JobKeeper should identify whether they have been bumped into a higher tax bracket as a result. If an individual is working multiple jobs and receiving JobKeeper at one of these positions pushes them into a new tax bracket, they may be faced with a higher tax bill on their return if their other employers had continued deducting tax at their original lower rate.

How JobSeeker will affect tax returns

JobSeeker payments are considered taxable income. The ATO will automatically upload JobSeeker details in the ‘Government Payments and Allowances’ section of recipients’ tax returns. However, recipients are advised that there may be a delay in these JobSeeker details being updated, potentially until the end of July. The ATO recommends delaying tax return lodgements until these details are finalised. Recipients that wish to complete their returns prior to this must ensure they include these details themselves, as leaving out assessable income can slow down the return process or result in a bill later.

COVID-19 protective equipment

Occupations that require public interactions may be able to claim personal protective equipment (PPE), including:

This would typically apply to industries such as healthcare, retail and hospitality. Many workplaces now have this PPE available for employees, however, employees who must pay for their own COVID-19 PPE and are not reimbursed for it will be able to make a claim.

Working from home

The ATO has introduced a new ‘shortcut method,’ which applies from 1 March 2020 to 30 June 2020. Under this new method, employees working from home as a result of COVID-19 can claim expenses incurred at a rate of 80 cents for each hour worked from home. Employees must keep a record of the hours they worked from home as evidence to support their claim.

Deductible running expenses include:

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