What can you claim at tax time? Coles shopper notices a percentage sign next to items she bought


Coles shopper reveals what the mysterious ‘% sign next to items on your supermarket receipt means – and it could earn you SERIOUS cash at tax time

  • Percentage signs next to items on grocery receipts mean they are ‘taxable’
  • The sign next to an item means Goods and Services Tax has been charged for it
  • Shoppers can claim the item at tax time if they bought it for their business 
  • You also need to be registered for GST, but it’s best to speak to an accountant

A Coles shopper has revealed what the ‘mysterious’ percentage signs next to items on her receipt mean after spotting them on a recent supermarket trip.

The Queensland woman purchased two can openers, a bottle opener and a carton of eggs for $20.30, with the three utensils were all listed alongside a percentage symbol. 

On Facebook she asked the ‘She’s On The Money’ group what this could mean and it turns out the items are ‘taxable’, which means Goods and Services Tax is charged for that item.

‘Now my question is, can I claim these on tax, and if so, where do I claim them?’ shopper Shayla wrote. 

A Coles shopper has revealed what the ‘mysterious’ percentage signs next to items on her receipt mean after spotting them on her most recent shop 

Can you claim these items at tax time? 

The answer depends on a few factors:

Did you purchase these items for use in your business?

Are you registered for GST?

If ‘yes’ and ‘yes’, you can claim the GST in your Business Activity Statement and the rest of the item in your tax return.

If ‘yes’ and ‘no’, you’d declare the whole item as a business expense in your tax return.

If ‘no’ and ‘no’, then, no.

This is oversimplified and for sole traders. if it’s business related, talk to your accountant, they can advise better with more knowledge of your business

‘I know that you have to keep the receipt if you do try to claim, just wondering where you would claim this when going through tax time. Hope this group can help.’

Most items at supermarkets are GST-free as most fresh food has no GST.

‘Whether the shopper can claim it as a tax deduction depends on your job, and how the item helps you to earn assessable income,’ an accountant wrote.

‘It would need to be specific to your job, and not just a personal cost such as food during regular work hours, or driving/commuting to work (without my meeting the additional deduction requirements) – personal costs cannot be claimed.’

‘It is best to have a chat with an accountant who can give you personalised advice, even if you intend to do tax yourself in the following years. This way you know what you can claim for your role.’

Many said the percentage sign likely indicates GST is included in the price. One woman wrote: 'Most items at supermarkets are GST- free as fresh food has no GST. You can only claim as a tax deduction if these items are related to your work as expenses to do your job or run a business.' (stock image)

Many said the percentage sign likely indicates GST is included in the price. One woman wrote: ‘Most items at supermarkets are GST- free as fresh food has no GST. You can only claim as a tax deduction if these items are related to your work as expenses to do your job or run a business.’ (stock image) 

Another woman wrote: ‘I’m not an accountant but a business owner doing a business degree. Be careful just relying on the ‘you can deduct it if it’s for work’ mentality.

‘That is NOT the case. The rules are strict for work deductions. Best to look them up on the ATO website which is quite helpful or speak to an account.’

Only certain work-related expenses can be claimed at the end of the financial year. 

What can you claim on tax?

You can claim deductions for some expenses you incur in your tax return – including work-related expenses, gifts and donations 

To claim a deduction for a work-related expense, you must meet the three golden rules:

1. You must have spent the money yourself and weren’t reimbursed – expenses can include uniforms, travel, stationery and vehicle expenses

2. The expenses must directly relate to earning your income 

3. You must have a record to prove it (usually a receipt)

Source: ATO

For example, uniforms, travel expenses and vehicles used for work can be claimed, but everyday attire bought for work can’t be claimed.

Product purchases can only be claimed if it’s used for work purposes or if you’re a business owner.  

Travel expenses include accommodation expenses, meal costs and transport expenses to get to and from the location you are travelling.

You can’t claim for normal trips between home and work even if you live far way from your office location accommodation expenses as this is private travel.

For more information, visit the Australian Taxation Office website here.

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