Raymond Yeung Tax Consultant former Assessor of Inland Revenue Department 前稅局評稅主任楊輝洪

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Salaries Tax - Are expenses deductible?

Section 12 of Inland Revenue Ordinance says all outgoings and expenses, other than that of a domestic, private or capital nature, which are wholly, exclusively and necessarily incurred in the production of assessable income, are deductible.

It should be noted that the tests of “wholly” and “exclusively” should not be construed narrowly. In practice, the Revenue accepts reasonable apportionment of expenses for deduction even if the expenses are not “wholly” and “exclusively” incurred in the production of assessable income.

Where the employer reimburses the expenses incurred by the employee, the Revenue may accept such reimbursement as non-taxable income. Or else, the employee can claim a deduction for the expenses allowance.

Where the employee is required to wear uniform on duty, the Revenue may grant a flat rate deduction for the laundry expenses incurred by the employee. This flat rate deduction is usually proposed by the Revenue when the employee claims the deduction in a tax return or a formal objection to the assessment. The employee can get a greater deduction if he can substantiate his claim by documentary proof.

Where the employee has part-time jobs, the Revenue may grant a flat rate deduction for the traveling expenses between the workplaces. This flat rate deduction is usually proposed by the Revenue if the employee claims the deduction in a tax return or in a formal objection to the assessment. The employee can get a greater deduction if he can substantiate his claim by documentary proof.

Where the employee is a member of a professional body (e.g. law society) and the membership is relevant to his job, the Revenue may allow a deduction for the annual membership fee.

Where the employee is a sales-person, the Revenue may grant a flat rate deduction for the commissions, entertainment and traveling expenses incurred by the employee. The flat rate deduction is usually proposed by the Revenue if the employee claims the deduction in a tax return or in a formal objection to the assessment. The employee can get a greater deduction if he can substantiate his claim by documentary proof. 

An employee can claim deduction for his mandatory contribution to a recognized retirement scheme. The maximum deduction is $15,000 from 2012/13 onward.

Click here for a study of two important tax cases on expenses deduction.

 

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