tax deductions and sun

Tax deductions for tinted sunscreen, not SPF makeup

The ATO says no to SPF makeups as tax deductible items for outdoor workers but tinted sunscreens are okay.

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Outdoor working women might be able to claim tax deductions for tinted sunscreens but don’t count on being able to claim makeup with equivalent levels of sun protection.­­­­

Under Australian Tax Office rules sunscreens including the tinted-skin colour variety may be tax deductible where a person’s job requires them to work outdoors.

An ATO spokesperson told Financy that as long as the tax deduction is made by someone who is “truly an outdoor worker” and has purchased and used the sunscreen to protect themselves as a result of being an outdoor worker, then whether or not “the sunscreen is tinted or non-tinted is not relevant to whether a deduction can be claimed.”

The ATO isn’t budging on makeups that may have the same amount of sun protection factor (SPF), such as 15+, 30+ or 50+.

But it is considering updating its information provided to taxpayers given a rise of SPF makeups and lotions on the market.

In a statement an ATO spokesperson said “while [the ATO] sees makeup as a cosmetic product and therefore not something that would be primarily a sunscreen, it is looking to provide better guidance to the public who may be confused when buying SPF products for work purposes.

“The ATO noted that its ruling on sun protection is over ten years old, and updated guidance on sunscreens was warranted in light of the rise of makeup products containing SPF.”

Teachers, particularly sports teachers and those regularly required as part of their job to do outdoor sports and playground duty, are among those who may be eligible for claiming sunscreens, including tinted products, as a tax deduction.

In addition to the country’s teachers, the majority of which are women, other outdoor worker roles might include sports and fitness trainers, and construction workers – typically men according to gender statistics on roles.

Women who spend only some of the time as outdoor workers may also be eligible but according tax experts says they may have to keep a log of their sun exposure to help support their claims of being an outdoor worker.

The market for SPF makeup products has grown significantly in recent years in Australia given that the country has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world.

Cosmetic brands such as Mac and Napoleon are just some of the names that offer makeup with high levels of SPF.

Products like Elle McPherson’s Invisible Zinc range which offer tinted sunscreens and moisturiser are not considered cosmetic.

One tax agent, who asked not to be named, questioned whether the ATO was keeping up-to-date which product changes and the way in which working women make decisions about the sun protection products they buy compared to men.

But for now the ATO’s view is that only products which are primary-use sunscreens and which are defined as that by the Therapeutic Goods Administration may be tax deductible where an individual is eligible to make a claim.

The ATO said it is also considering speaking to the TGA about the rise of sun protection products and makeups.

Women with Cents founder Natasha Janssens said the ATO needed to look at updating its rules on many of the tax deductions which affect working women.

In this Financy FM, Natasha provides her top tax deduction tips to working women.


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