• Lawyers

    Other work-related expenses

    Attention

    Warning:

    This information may not apply to the current year. Check the content carefully to ensure it is applicable to your circumstances.

    End of attention

    Did you have other expenses relating to your work as an employee?

    Here is a list of other expenses commonly incurred by employee lawyers.

    For more information about the deductibility of these expenses, see question D5 in Individual tax return instructions.

    You cannot claim costs met by your employer or costs that are reimbursed, see Reimbursements.

    Admission fees

    You cannot claim a deduction for the cost of admission fees.

    Annual practising certificate fees

    You can claim a deduction for the cost of renewing your annual practising certificate.

    Answering machines, mobile phones, pagers and other telecommunications equipment

    For information about claiming deductions for the decline in value of answering machines, mobile phones, pagers and other telecommunications equipment, see Capital allowances.

    Briefcases

    For information about claiming deductions for the decline in value of a briefcase used for work, see Capital allowances.

    Calculators and electronic organisers

    For information about claiming deductions for the decline in value of calculators and electronic organisers used for work, see Capital allowances.

    Capital allowances

    You can claim a deduction, called a capital allowance, for the decline in value of equipment used for work. If the equipment is also used for private purposes, you cannot claim a deduction for that part of the decline in value.

    You cannot claim a deduction if the equipment is supplied by your employer or any other person.

    Generally, the amount of your deduction depends on the effective life of the equipment.

    Equipment costing $300 or less

    If you purchased equipment costing $300 or less and you use it mainly for work, you can claim an immediate deduction for the work-related portion of the cost.

    You cannot claim an immediate deduction if:

    • the equipment is part of a set that you buy in the same income year and the total cost of the set is more than $300 (the set rule), or
    • the equipment is one of a number of identical or substantially identical items you buy in an income year and the total cost of the items is more than $300 (the multiples rule).

    Low-value pool

    You also have the option to pool equipment costing less than $1,000 and equipment written down to less than $1,000 under the diminishing value method. You work out a deduction for the decline in value of equipment in this low-value pool by a single calculation using set rates.

    For more information on claiming a deduction for the low-value pool, see question D6 of Individual tax return instructions and make your claim at item D6 on your tax return.

    Equipment for which you may be able to claim capital allowance includes:

    • answering machines, telephones, facsimile machines, mobile phones, pagers and other telecommunications equipment
    • briefcases
    • calculators and electronic organisers
    • computers and computer software
    • a professional library
    • wigs worn by lawyers for appearances in court.

    For more information about claiming deductions for the decline in value of equipment, see the Guide to depreciating assets 2015.

    Child care

    You cannot claim a deduction for child care expenses. These are private expenses even if you need to pay for child care to go to work.

    Club membership fees and club sponsorship fees

    You cannot claim a deduction for club membership fees, for example, your annual golf club membership fees, even if it helps you to meet clients.

    Computers and software

    For information about claiming deductions for the decline in value of computers and software, see Capital allowances.

    Driver licence

    You cannot claim a deduction for the cost of getting or renewing your driver licence as it is a private expense.

    Fares

    You can claim a deduction for the cost of using public transport for work-related travel, for example, from your office to a client’s office.

    Fines

    You cannot claim a deduction for fines imposed:

    • under a law of the Commonwealth, a state, a territory, a foreign country, or
    • by a court (for example, a fine you received for speeding when driving between jobs).

    First aid courses

    You can claim a deduction for the cost of first aid training courses if you, as a designated first aid person, are required to undertake first aid training to assist in emergency work situations.

    Glasses and contact lenses

    You cannot claim a deduction for the cost of buying prescription glasses or contact lenses as it is a private expense relating to a personal medical condition.

    Greeting cards

    You cannot claim a deduction for the cost of greeting cards you buy for clients. This is a private expense.

    Grooming including hairdressing, cosmetics, hair and skin care products

    You cannot claim a deduction for hairdressing, cosmetics, hair and skin care products as they are private expenses.

    Hiring equipment

    You can claim the costs of hiring equipment used for work. If the equipment is also used for private purposes, you cannot claim a deduction for that part of the hire cost.

    Home office

    Private study

    You can claim a deduction for the additional running expenses of an office or a study at home that you use for income-producing activities. Running expenses include decline in value of home office equipment, the costs of repairs to your home office furniture and fittings, and heating, cooling, lighting and cleaning expenses. You cannot claim occupancy expenses, for example, rent, rates, mortgage interest and house insurance premiums, unless you are carrying on a business. If your only income is paid to you as an employee, you are not considered to be carrying on a business.

    Diary records noting the time the home office was used for work are acceptable evidence of a connection between the use of a home office and your work. You will need to keep diary records during a representative four-week period. For more information on what records you should keep and the calculation of home office expenses, see Law Administration Practice Statement PS LA 2001/6 – Home office expenses: diaries of use and calculation of home office expensesExternal Link.

    Place of business

    You can claim a deduction for part of the running and occupancy expenses of your home if you use an area of your home as a place of business. Taxation Ruling TR 93/30 – Income tax: deductions for home office expensesExternal Link has information on whether or not an area set aside has the character of a place of business.

    There may also be capital gains tax implications if you sell your home and it has been used as a place of business.

    Work it out

    Home office expenses calculator

    End of work it out

    Insurance of tools and equipment

    You can claim a deduction for the cost of insuring your tools and equipment to the extent that you use them for work.

    Insurance – income continuance

    You can claim a deduction for the insurance premiums you pay to cover yourself for loss of income.

    Interest costs

    You can claim the cost of interest on money borrowed to purchase work-related equipment. If the equipment was also used for private purposes, you cannot claim a deduction for that part of the interest.

    Meals

    You cannot claim a deduction for the cost of meals eaten during a normal working day as it is a private expense, even if you receive an allowance to cover the meal expense. For information about claiming deductions for the cost of meals eaten during overtime, see Overtime meals.

    Newspapers

    You cannot claim a deduction for the cost of newspapers as it is a private expense.

    Overtime meals

    An amount for overtime meals that is part of your normal salary and wage income is taxed as part of your income. It is not an 'overtime meal allowance'.

    You must include amounts you received as overtime meal allowance at item 2 on your tax return.

    You can claim for overtime meal expenses only on those occasions when:

    • you worked overtime
    • your employer paid you an overtime meal allowance under an industrial law, award or agreement.

    You will need written evidence if your claim per meal is more than the rate stated in Taxation Determination TD 2014/19 - Income tax: what are the reasonable travel and overtime meal allowance expense amounts for the 2014-15 income year?

    Read this determination together with Taxation Ruling TR 2004/6 – Income tax: substantiation exception for reasonable travel and overtime meal allowance expensesExternal Link.

    If you received an award overtime meal allowance which is not shown on a payment summary, you may choose not to include the allowance as income at item 2 on your tax return and not claim a deduction, as long as:

    • the allowance does not exceed the Commissioner’s reasonable allowance amounts
    • you have fully spent it.

    Professional indemnity insurance

    You can claim a deduction for the cost of professional indemnity insurance.

    Professional library

    For information about claiming deductions for the decline in value of professional library used for work, see Capital allowances.

    Removal and relocation

    You cannot claim a deduction for the cost involved in taking up a transfer in an existing employment or taking up new employment with a different employer.

    Seminars, conferences and training courses

    You can claim a deduction for the cost of attending seminars, conferences and training courses that are sufficiently connected to your work activities.

    Social functions

    You cannot claim a deduction for the cost of attending staff dinners or other social functions even if clients meet you there.

    Stationery

    You can claim a deduction for the cost of street directories, logbooks, diaries, pens and other stationery to the extent that you use them for work.

    Supreme Court library fees

    You can claim a deduction for Supreme Court library fees you pay on an annual basis. You cannot claim a deduction if you pay Supreme Court library fees only once upon admission to practise.

    Suspension from practice

    You cannot claim a deduction for the cost of defending your right to practise.

    Technical or professional publications

    You can claim a deduction for the cost of journals, periodicals and magazines that have a content sufficiently connected to your employment as an employee lawyer.

    Telephone calls, telephone rental and connection costs

    You can claim a deduction for the cost of work-related telephone calls.

    You can claim a deduction for your telephone rental if you can show that you are on call or are regularly required to telephone your employer while you are away from your workplace. If you also use your telephone for private purposes, you must apportion the cost of telephone rental between work-related and private use.

    You cannot claim a deduction for the cost of connecting a telephone, mobile phone, pager or any other telecommunications equipment as it is a capital expense.

    You cannot claim a deduction for the cost of an unlisted telephone number (silent number) as it is a private expense.

    Tools and equipment

    For information about claiming deductions for the decline in value of tools and equipment used for work, see Capital allowances.

    You can claim a deduction for the cost of repairing tools and equipment for work. If the tools or equipment were also used for private purposes, you cannot claim a deduction for that part of the repair cost.

    Union and professional association fees

    You can claim a deduction for union and professional association fees. If the amount you paid is shown on your payment summary, you can use it to prove your claim. You can claim a deduction for a levy paid in certain circumstances, for example, to protect the interests of members and their jobs.

    You cannot claim a deduction for:

    • joining fees
    • levies or other amounts you paid to assist families of employees suffering financial difficulties as a result of employees being on strike or having been laid off.

    Wigs worn by lawyers for appearances in court

    For information about claiming deductions for the decline in value of wigs worn by lawyers for appearances in court, see Capital allowances.

    Last modified: 29 May 2015QC 44174