Tax Time!

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Before I proceed, let me just disclaim that I am not a tax expert and I don't work as a professional tax agent. I just wanted to share some information that I have come across while preparing my own tax returns which may also be applicable to you. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of us had been forced to work from home (well, I really love working from home so it's not forced hehehe)... you probably get what I mean. :) As a result of the change in circumstances, we also incurred expenses related to our work such as purchase of monitors, printers, office desk, chair and all others that are work-related.

Normally, I don't have a lot of deductions to claim as the nature of my work is office based and pretty much everything is provided by my employer. So without further ado, here are some expenses you may want to keep in mind when lodging your tax returns:

Working from home


If you have purchased office equipment and furniture related to work-from-home, such as monitors, laptops, printer, keyboard, mouse, office desk and chair, headset, calculator, etc. then you may claim these expenses as Tools, Equipment and other Assets - as long as that they were not provided by your employer and you have kept the receipts for these items. If you don't have the physical receipts, you may be able to retrieve the information from your email, bank account or if you bought it online, usually you'll have a trail there if you created an account with the vendor. As long as you have a record, then you may claim the expense as deduction.

One thing to keep in mind though, if you are using these equipment and furniture for both work and personal purposes, then claim only the percentage you use for work.

If you want to read more, you may refer to the ATO website here for this particular expense.

Home-office


If you're working from home, you may claim additional running expenses such as electricity, phone and internet. The short cut method is to claim 80 cents per working hours during the period you were working from home. This already covers phone, internet, electricity and gas for heating as well as decline in value of equipment and furniture, if applicable. This is only applicable to the period 1 March 2020 onwards. So if you have work from home arrangement before this date, you will need to use a different method of calculating home office for that. 

This is the easiest method and it can apply even if you don't have a dedicated working space, however, if your circumstances are different, or if you're looking for a different method, you may refer to the ATO website here.

Other expenses to keep in mind

These are just the expenses that might have changed under the current circumstances, so I am giving emphasis on those. Check if there are others that apply to your circumstances too. Examples are below:

Self-education

If you took up studies during 2020, then you're entitled to claim self-education expenses provided that the course was work-related. So if you're working as an engineer or accountant and then you decided to enrol in online baking classes or dancing classes to fill up that extra time due to working from home, this is not the self-education that ATO was talking about. ;)

Your work-related self-education expenses may include enrolment fees, textbooks, cost of printing, calculator, stationery, etc. These are the basics. However, if your company reimburses you for the enrolment fees, then you may not claim this expense as deduction. You may still claim the other ones though.

For a thorough list of what you can and can't claim, refer to the ATO website here. They've got a pretty extensive list of what you may claim.

If you are a member of a professional body related to your work, make sure you are also claiming the annual membership fees you are paying them. Again, keep in mind that these expenses were not reimbursed by your company.

The above deductions are not exhaustive. Deductions that can be claimed varies greatly from one job to another so make sure you consult the ATO website if you are attempting to lodge your own tax return. The ATO, through MyGov, has got a pretty good online form that I have been using for years and it's very easy if your income stream is just coming from employment. The platform applies whatever tax offset you are entitled to based on the information you have provided, so it's very user-friendly.

If you are also running a small business as a sole trader, you may want to lodge your tax return with the help of a registered tax agent, that way, you can get advice on how you can manage your business income and expense to your utmost benefit. 

In my case, I lodged my business income and expenses myself because my circumstances are still very simple. My business activities are just in its early stages so it's easy to report them under the same individual tax return. However, I'd still recommend going to a tax agent and I might do so in the future, if the benefit of maximising tax benefits outweighs the cost of managing my tax affairs. :)
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Free Krispy Kreme Donuts TODAY ONLY!

Monday, July 13, 2020

Today I am postponing my diet plans again because Krispy Kreme is offering a dozen glazed donuts for those whose birthday falls in between 13th March to 13th July. 

Photo source

That's me and my hubby too! Yehey! I checked the criteria and fortunately for us, Penrith is one of the few participating stores. So here we are at the shop drive through while waiting to claim our free donuts. 

If your birthday falls in between the period above, be sure to check your nearest participating store NOW. The free donuts are only valid for today and while stocks last. Don't forget to bring your ID! (",)

Thanks Krispy Kreme! :)

Find more about their promo here.


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3 Easy and FREE Self-Care Tricks!

Friday, July 10, 2020

As we all begin to ease in into the “new normal,” I realised that it’s the perfect chance to find some spare time for self-care. I remember the last time I looked at myself in the mirror and didn’t recognise myself. Inside I felt young but the face I’m staring at in the mirror didn’t look young at all. It looked tired and beaten. 

This was mostly due to lack of sleep. Before I gave birth to Darla, until now that she’s over 2 years old, I haven’t slept for a stretch of at least 5 hours. She’s such an alert baby and she still wakes up in between her night sleep, sometimes for as many as 5 times!

But then it’s also because I haven’t been very caring for myself lately. So I decided to establish a self-care routine that’s easy and most importantly, free! 😊

 

Face wash routine

When I wash my face in the morning, I like to use cold water. It’s supposed to slow down the aging of the skin, prevent it from being stripped of its healthy natural oils and I can feel like my skin tightens when I use cold water to wash my face.

However, my before bedtime routine is a bit different. I would use lukewarm water first to wash off the daily dirt and grime and then finish off with cold water to tighten the skin.

You can use any facial wash that suits your skin condition. For me, I use Atomy Deep Cleanser and sometimes I follow with Atomy Foam Cleanser. I have very dry skin at the moment from lack of sleep, so I try not to use the foam cleanser regularly. So far, I’m quite happy with these 2 K-beauty products as they’re very mild and affordable too. 😊

 

My go-to skin care products - mild and safe


Natural exfoliating mask

Once in a while, I would also exfoliate to remove the dead skin cells. Normally, I would use Atomy Peeling Gel when I don’t have much time but when I do get the chance to indulge, I would prepare a face mask recipe that I have been using since I was a child: Lemon-Milk Mask. I have learned about this facial mask from my THE teacher and out of boredom, I remember taking my time in the bathroom to apply this mask. I used calamansi because we didn’t have lemon in the Philippines (it was very expensive to buy them from the shops too) so you could also substitute the lemon with calamansi and it will still work.

It’s just very simple to make this:

Just squeeze a spoonful of lemon juice onto a bowl and add a spoonful of milk too. The lemon juice will make the milk curdle therefore it’s easier to apply it onto your face. Leave it on for just a couple of minutes then wash it off with water or if you have a water filter like ours, you could choose the pH level 6.5 (beauty water) to match the pH level of our skin. Lemon has ingredients that were found to be good for melasma too.

Just some precautions though, do not use this mask if you will be going outside because the lemon will cause the skin to become sensitive to the sun. I suggest using this before bedtime just to be safe. And don't overdo this just like you won't overuse other exfoliating products.

For final touches, I would mist my face with grapeseed oil infused in beauty water just to rehydrate the skin because exfoliating could make the skin dry.

 

Smile more often 😊

This is something I have just recently discovered: facial exercises makes the facial muscles firm thus preventing it from sagging. The idea behind this is that, the face is made of muscles too and facial exercises make the muscles firm.

The easiest facial exercise is smiling and while it does wonder to our facial skin, it also does a great deal on our heart because a happy heart is a good medicine. 😊

However, if you want to step up and do more exercises, here is a good book I recommend. It’s got good reviews and could help you target facial areas you want to improve on. It's not free but it's very cheap and you can use this as reference for a lifetime. 

For now though, remember to smile often! 😊


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