Dial up some tax deductions with a mobile phone checkup

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MOBILE phone bills are getting more complex, but that’s no reason to ignore the potential for them to deliver tax deductions and other savings.

Tax time is here, and claiming a portion of your phone costs as a work-related deduction is not as difficult as it seems.

You dont need to manually write down every work-related call you made last financial year. The Australian Taxation Office says you only need to keep records for a four-week representative period each financial year.

These records may include diary entries, electronic records and bills, it says. However, you cant claim a deduction if your employer provides your phone and pays for it, the ATO says.

Gerard Mansour, head of communication at amaysim, says you have to work out the proportion of work-related use in a monthly bill then multiply it by 12.

You can also apportion landline and internet data plans this way, potentially getting back hundreds of extra dollars as a tax refund.

Make sure to hold onto the bill you used to calculate the deduction, as the ATO requires you to keep a record of all your tax deduction calculations, Mansour says.

He says another big cost for mobile phone users can be the so-called Stockholm syndrome sticking with the same phone contract even if its lapsed after 12 or 24 months, because you trust your provider.

If youre on a lapsed contract, theres a good chance that youre paying more than you need to,’ Monsour says.

An easy way to bump money off your mobile phone bill is by ditching the lapsed contract and upgrading to a month-to-month plan that offers better value.

Dentist Dr Gamer Verdian makes sure his accountant analyses his and his wifes phone bills, and also regularly checks his own phone contract.

He recently switched to a new plan at $49 a month half the cost of his previous plan. I had a few friends change over and made the same recommendations to me, he says.

Research by Telsyte has found that more than half of all mobile phone plans now have no strings attached.

A growing number of smartphone-savvy users are increasingly unwilling to commit to long-term contracts and are opting for BYO plans in order to ensure they are free to claim better deals when they come along, Mansour says.