Teachers, medical staff and personal services workers such as hairdressers could claim deductions for masks, hand sanitisers and RATs without the need for legislative changes, said the director of tax communication at H&R Block.
Mark Chapman said if RATs were purchased as a result of your job, they were already covered by existing tests for work-related purpose.
But the changes flagged by the government did make good headlines.
“The Government has made a bit of a song and dance that they are going to allow a deduction for covid tests and they’re going to introduce legislation to specifically allow this from 1 July,” he said.
“But the reality is that these tests were probably always tax deductible anyway.
“If the test has been purchased for a work-related purpose, then quite simply it’s always been tax deductible.”
He said RATs were just one example of what could be claimed, with others including masks and hand sanitisers.
All would be allowable for a range of workers who come into close contact with the public, such as hairdressers, beauty salon workers, teachers and medical centre staff from doctors to nurses, receptionists and cleaners.
“They’re all entitled to those as a deduction,” he said.
But he said one question over COVID-related costs had been closed down by the ATO.
“The costs of travel to actually purchase the test is a question that’s sprung up a few times recently, and basically the ATO has said that won’t be tax deductible because they regard it as private expenses,” he said.
And if you were subject to an isolation mandate the situation was straightforward.
“If you’re not getting paid, you’re not paying tax. It’s basically as simple as that,” he said.
Philip King is editor of Accountants Daily and SMSF Adviser, the leading sources of news, insight, and educational content for professionals in the accounting and SMSF sectors.
Philip joined the titles in March 2022 and brings extensive experience from a variety of roles at The Australian national broadsheet daily, most recently as motoring editor. His background also takes in spells on diverse consumer and trade magazines.