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Top 10 tax tips you should know as a student

By Ben Madden

Getting ready to submit your tax return later this year? As a student, there are ways you can use your tax return to get ahead – if you’re informed. We’ve put together some tips to help you get the most out of your tax return this year, as well as ways you can use your tax refund (if you’re getting one) to progress your education. Tax time doesn’t need to be scary!

What can students claim on tax?

There are a range of things that students can claim when submitting their tax return. According to the Australian Taxation Office, “You may be able to claim a deduction for specific expenses related to your self-education or study, if the education is relevant to earning your income.” It’s always worth speaking to an accountant about whether you’re eligible to claim deductions related to your study.

If you’re eligible to claim deductions related to your study, then some of the things you can claim include:
  • Textbooks and industry-related publications
  • Course/tuition fees (excluding HECS/HELP)
  • Union dues
  • Stationery
  • Photocopying fees
  • Student service fees
  • Depreciation/repair costs of equipment like laptops, computers and printers

If you’re thinking about completing some self-education, then this can also be claimed. You can claim self-education expenses if you’re working and studying at the same time, and meet any of the following:
  • You’re upgrading your qualifications for your current role/career
  • You’re improving your skillset/knowledge to expand your role at work
  • You’re completing a course as part of a traineeship
  • You can prove that your course did/is likely to lead to an increase in income

The ATO provides a self-education expenses calculator that can help you work out what you’re eligible to claim.

What are the most important tax tips for students?

If you’re looking to get the most out of tax time, then there are a range of tips that you’ll want to know. We’ve put together 10 tips that can help you maximise your tax this year!

  1. Ensure you have everything you need for a tax return. Grab your tax file number, payment summary/s, bank statements and any invoices/receipts so you’re prepared.
  2. Keep your receipts somewhere safe. Whether you store receipts in a box or in an app, ensure you’re grabbing a receipt when incurring education-related expenses!
  3. Ensure you’re reporting income from the gig economy/side hustles. The ATO knows about work you may have done for Uber and other such companies, so report your income from these endeavours.
  4. Understand the difference between a hobby and business. If you’re selling goods/services to friends and family (or the general public), then that may involve extra tax obligations if you’re considered to be a business by the ATO. You can learn more here.
  5. You can claim charity donations as a deduction (registered charities only). Donations that are $2 or more can be claimed if the charity has registered as a deductible gift recipient (DGR).
  6. Know the tax-free threshold. $18,200 of your income is tax-free. Any income after that is taxed on a sliding scale.
  7. Understand what work-related expenses you can claim. You can claim uniform costs (if the uniform has a logo) and work-related travel costs, such as travelling to/from training or conferences/summits.
  8. Know what you can’t claim. Things that you can’t claim include rent, home and contents insurance, rates and HECS/HELP fees.
  9. Invest in your self-education. Self-education is a terrific way to get ahead in the world of work, so consider enrolling in an online course! Upskilled provides a range of courses in a range of industries that you can learn more about here. Speak to one of our education consultants to find a course that’s related to your current employment.
  10. Speak to a qualified tax agent. There is absolutely no shame in asking for help with your tax. Speak to a tax agent about how you can maximise your return, as well as set yourself for success in the future. You can even claim the cost of speaking to a tax agent on your next return.

Why is it beneficial to know these tax tips?

Knowing these tax tips will help you improve your financial literacy and make tax time a breeze. It can be tempting to put off tax preparation until its deadline (whether you’re doing so yourself or with a tax agent), but this can hamper your ability to gather all the evidence necessary to make your claims. Prepare for tax time all year round so you can maximise your return!

Looking to get ahead in your career, or just want to learn more about the world of work? Upskilled’s SkillsTalk blog provides a range of tips and tricks to help make your professional journey more rewarding and successful. You can visit SkillsTalk here, and you can learn more about Upskilled’s range of nationally recognised qualifications here!
Disclaimer: This article has been written for informational purposes only. You should speak with your own independent financial advisors before acting on any of the information given.

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*By providing your information, you agree to our Privacy Policy and to receiving email and other forms of communication from Upskilled. You are able to opt-out at any time.