Teabags, Toilet Paper & Tax

blog_teabagOver the years, I’ve peppered my accountant with (mostly outrageous) questions about what I can legally claim against my business income to minimise my tax. My learnings are summarised below.

With any luck, you’ll spot something you haven’t considered. Even better, you’ll table things I’ve missed. If we all contribute, we’ll create a comprehensive list of deductibles to make everyone’s New Year happier!

My favourite deduction category is Staff Amenities, which includes:


  • Milk.
  • Tea.
  • Coffee.
  • Jarrah Chocolatté rich creamy triple-choc fudge explosion (reserved for executive managers).
  • Sugar.
  • Biscuits (for visiting clients).
  • Toilet paper.
  • Soap.
  • Tissues (for crying over bad debts).
  • Cleaning products (including fabric softener, for washing tea towels).
  • First aid supplies (e.g. disinfectant and bandaids, for nasty paper cuts).


As Fonnie and I are the only staff based at Empire House, I’m very careful to make reasonable, proportional claims. I operate as if a Tax Officer is peering over my shoulder. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time!

My second favourite category is Utilities (water, gas, electricity, rates and telephone). One of the few benefits of working in a 4 x 22 m cottage is that I can claim a third of these expenses, rather than the usual fifth or sixth. If you’re based in a flat, you may be able to do likewise.

Claiming part of these bills reduces the sting of paying them. I was even able to claim a third of my new hot water service. The same would’ve applied had I installed a solar power system this financial year. What a shame the government just torpedoed that initiative!

Claiming items bought solely for your office is also fun. If you’re going to spend 8-14 hours of every day in one room, you might as well make it nice. Claiming makes it less daunting to buy attractive, high quality items like rugs and ergonomic desks and chairs. Lesser office items include lamps, globes, power boards and wastepaper baskets.

When I had my front door rehung due to the drought, some of the cost was claimable (as it formed part of my client reception area). The same applied to my new doormat and sensor light. I was even able to claim my Eckhart Tolle ticket, as it partly inspired one of my blog posts.

All you need is a keen eye, a rabid desire to maximise your tax return and a very patient accountant.

I fully believe in paying tax to fund the government infrastructure and services I enjoy. I simply don’t want to pay more than I must.

So, what ideas can YOU contribute to line our pockets and make us smile?

Paul Hassing, Founder & Senior Writer,