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ATO says you can claim RATs back on tax

Australian ATO tax return forms and a man holding Aussie $50 notes
The ATO has confirmed COVID-19 rapid-antigen tests are tax deductible if used for work. (Source: Getty)

There’s good news for workers who needed to buy rapid-antigen tests (RATs), with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) saying taxpayers can claim the expenses back as a deduction.

Aussies who paid for COVID-19 RATs for work-related purposes, or bought their own PPE, will be able to claim it back when they file their tax returns this year.

The ATO said it expected COVID-19 expenses would continue to impact tax returns this financial year.

"We know that many have faced significant challenges," ATO assistant commissioner Tim Loh said.

RAT prices varied significantly over the course of the pandemic.

Finder research found the average price for a two-pack was around $25-$30 and a five-pack of tests could be anywhere between $50 and $100.

For those who needed to test regularly for their job, the overall cost could have been huge.

From July 1, anyone that was required to buy COVID-19 tests - to determine if they could attend or remain at work - will be able to claim the cost as a tax deduction.

"If you purchased a COVID-19 test for a trip with your mates, you can't claim a deduction," Loh said.

They must have a record proving they paid for the test but the ATO will accept a bank or credit card statement, alongside documentation from employers, as evidence.

The ATO said employees could not claim for tests supplied by their workplace or where the cost was reimbursed.

Protective clothes and equipment

Taxpayers will also be able to claim deductions for the cost of items that protect against illness or injury while at work.

"If you're spending your working day in close proximity to customers and at risk of contracting COVID-19, you may be able to claim a deduction for protective items such as gloves, face masks, or sanitiser,” Loh said.

Disaster payments

The federal COVID-19 disaster payment will not be taxed and does not need to be included in returns.

However, JobSeeker and Pandemic Leave Disaster payments are taxable and do need to be included.

- With AAP

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