Tax Deductions: Claiming your Work Calls

Did you know you can claim the cost of work calls made from your private mobile phone?

What You Can Claim

If you also used your phone for private purposes, you need to only claim the portion of calls made in relation to your work. Keep in mind, if you are reimbursed for part or all your phone expenses, provided a pre-paid SIM card or phone by your employer, you can only claim for the work-related use portion for which you have not been reimbursed for.

If you have purchased a smartphone, tablet, or other electronic device to use for work, you can also claim a deduction for a percentage of the cost.

How To Claim Your Work Calls

You can use different methods to work out what amount to claim for work-related phone use for, including:

Itemised bills

If your phone plan includes an itemised bill, you should determine your percentage of work-related calls over a four-week representative period. Then, apply this sample to the full year.

You need to work out the percentage with a reasonable basis. This could be:

  • The number of work calls made as a percentage of total calls made;
  • The amount of time spent on work calls as a percentage of total call times; or
  • The amount of data downloaded for work purposes as a percentage of total downloads.

Non-itemised bills

If your phone plan does not include an itemised bill, you will need to determine your work use by recording all your calls over a four-week representative period. Then, calculate your claim using a reasonable basis like the above.

Bundled bills

Internet and phone services are often bundled. If you have a bundled plan, you need to identify our work use for each service over a four-week representative period. You can then apply this sample over the full year using a reasonable bias.

If other members of your household use the services, consider their usage in your calculations too.

A reasonable bias could include:

  • Internet
    • The amount of data downloaded for work as a percentage of the total data downloaded by all users; or
    • Any additional costs incurred because of your work use.
  • Phone
    • Work calls made as a percentage of total calls;
    • Amount of time spent on work calls as a percentage of total call times; or
    • Any additional cost incurred because of your work calls.

Incidental use

If your work usage is incidental and your claim is no more than $50, you may base it on the following without bill analysis:

  • $0.25 for work calls made from your landline
  • $0.75 for work calls made from your mobile phone
  • $0.10 for text messages sent from your mobile phone.

You cannot claim for incidental use of mobile data.

Engaging a specialist tax accountant like the team at Online Tax Return will make this process easy. Our team will work with you to quickly and accurately work out your phone use to maximise your return every time.

What You Can’t Claim

Casual Employees

Casual employees do not derive assessable income until they commence their duties at their place of employment. Thus, if you are a casual employee, you cannot claim deductions for phone expenses as there is no direct connection to your employment.

Employer Provided Phone

If your employer provides you with a phone for work and is billed for the usage then you are not able to claim a deduction. If you pay for your usage and are reimbursed for your costs by your employer, you are also not able to claim for that amount.

Substantiating Your Claims

To claim a deduction of more than $50, you must keep a detailed record over a four-week representative period each income year. These records may include diary entries of bills, as well as evidence that your employer expects you to work at home or make work-related calls to prove your entitlement.

For the best way to ensure your claims are up to Australian Taxation Office regulations, contact Online Tax Returns today. As Australia’s leading online tax service, our team of tax specialists can assist you in organising your tax return, deductions and claims all year round.

This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice.

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