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  • Protective items, equipment and products

    Check if you can claim costs for items that protect you from the real and likely risk of illness or injury while working.

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    Personal protective equipment (PPE)

    You may be able to claim a deduction for personal protective equipment (PPE) you buy and use at work.

    You must incur the expense for the protective items, equipment or products. You can't claim a deduction if your employer:

    • pays for the items
    • provides the items
    • reimburses you for the cost you incur.

    To be able to claim a deduction, you must need to use the PPE in direct connection to earning your employment income. This means:

    • you are exposed to the risk of illness or injury in the course of carrying out your work duties
    • the risk is not remote or negligible
    • in the circumstances there would be reason to expect the use of that kind of protective item
    • you use the item in the course of carrying out your work duties.

    PPE may include items such as:

    • hardhats and helmets
    • safety glasses or goggles
    • earplugs
    • gloves
    • face masks or face shields
    • sanitiser
    • anti-bacterial spray.

    The PPE you can claim as a deduction will depend on the nature of your employment duties.

    Example: deduction allowable for helmet and safety visor

    Wiremu works on a building site. He is required to wear a helmet and safety visor on site and if he doesn't wear them, he is at risk of being injured. There is direct connection between the expense he incurs to buy the helmet and safety visor and the protection the items provide for him at work.

    Wiremu can claim a deduction for the cost of the helmet and safety visor.

    End of example

    Personal protective equipment during COVID-19

    During the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be able to claim a deduction for the cost of buying a face mask to wear at work if:

    • your employment duties require you and other employees to be at your place of work
    • a face mask is not provided to you by your employer, and
    • you need to wear a mask because your duties bring you in close contact with clients.

    To claim a deduction for other items of PPE such as gloves, sanitiser or anti-bacterial spray, your specific work duties must either:

    • require you to have physical contact or be in close proximity to clients or customers while carrying out your duties
    • involve you cleaning a premises.

    This will usually be people working in the following industries:

    • medical industry (such as doctors, nurses, dentists and allied health workers)
    • cleaning industry
    • airline industry
    • hairdressing and beautician industry
    • retail, café and restaurant industry.

    If you work in these industries or occupations, the risk is not remote or negligible.

    To claim a deduction for PPE items, you will need to keep records such as a receipt to prove your claim. You also must not have been reimbursed for the expense.

    If your private use of the item is no more than incidental to your protection from the risks you are exposed to while carrying out your work duties, you don't have to apportion the expense. However, if your private use is more than incidental, you can only claim a deduction for the portion of the expense that relates to your work-related use.

    Example: no deduction allowable for face masks

    Kate is an employee website designer who has always worked from home. Prior to COVID-19, she occasionally met with her clients face to face. This was mainly because her clients were located all around Australia and overseas. As a result of COVID-19, Kate no longer meets any of her clients face to face.

    To break up her day, Kate likes to leave the house to eat her lunch and do some exercise. When she leaves the house, Kate wears a face mask. Although the face mask protects Kate from the risk of COVID-19, she is not performing work duties when she on her lunch break or exercising.

    Kate can't claim a deduction for the face masks she buys. The risk of illness from her work environment (her home) is remote. She only wears a face mask when undertaking private activities.

    End of example

    Cosmetics containing sun protection

    Personal items can perform more than one function, and so can have more than one use. For example, some creams and cosmetics can function both as a sun protection and as a cosmetic. If the primary purpose of the item is for use as a cosmetic or the product is marketed as a cosmetic, it generally won't be treated as a sun protection product.

    You can only claim a deduction for the cost of a product containing sun protection if:

    • your work exposes you to the effects of the sun because you are required to perform your duties for prolonged periods outdoors
    • you wear a sunscreen while you are at work to protect you from that risk.

    If you use a sunscreen for private purposes and work purposes, you need to apportion for your private usage.

    You can't claim a deduction if:

    • your work doesn't require you to perform your duties in the sun for prolonged periods
    • you purchase a cosmetic with added sunblock protection.

    Cosmetics are designed to change a person's appearance or cleanse, perfume or protect an external part of the body. This means that they are usually a private expense and the addition of sun protection does not make them deductible.

    If your product is a sunscreen or a cosmetic

    The Department of Health, Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) regulates if a product is safe and effective as a sunscreen.

    If a product is safe and effective as a sunscreen, it's given an Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG ID) number by the TGA. This is displayed on the product as an AUST L number. The AUST L number is different from the SPF number.

    Any product with an ARTG ID and an AUST L number on the label will be accepted as sunscreen.

    To find out whether a product has been given an ARTG ID you can visit the TGA websiteExternal Link.

    Example – no deduction allowable for products that are not a sunscreen

    Jackie is a teacher and has bought a cosmetic with added sunblock. Once a week, Jackie is required to supervise pupils at their sports afternoon outdoors. Jackie wears the cosmetic every day and she finds it suitable as sun protection but it isn't a sunscreen approved by the TGA. As Jackie uses the product primarily as a cosmetic, she will not be entitled to a deduction for the purchase. This is even though she is exposed to the sun when she is performing her duties on sports afternoon.

    If the product Jackie purchased had been given an ARTG ID by the TGA, she would have to apportion the deduction she claimed for the product to account for her personal use. Her personal use would include the time Jackie does not spend in the sun performing her duties and any other time she wears the cosmetic outside school hours.

    End of example


    Example – no deduction allowable for products used for night duties

    Teegan is a hospitality worker and works at night at a restaurant. She bought a cosmetic with a high level sunblock to wear at all times. Although Teegan wears the cosmetic when she goes to work, her duties don't expose her to the effects of the sun and sun protection isn't required by her in the course of earning her income. Teegan isn't able to claim a deduction for the cosmetic.

    End of example


    Example – deduction allowed for cosmetic containing sunscreen

    Wendy works as a gardener and spends the majority of her working day outdoors. Wendy purchases a tinted moisturiser with a high level sunblock to use on her face when she is working along with a sunscreen for her arms and legs. Wendy doesn’t use these products when she isn't working. Wendy checks the TGA website and finds that both the products she uses have an ARTG ID.

    As Wendy is exposed to the sun for long periods as a result of performing her duties and she only wears the products when she is working, the cost of the products is incurred in earning her assessable income. This means she is entitled to a deduction for the tinted moisturiser and sunscreen she purchases.

    End of example

    Protective glasses and clothing

    You can claim a deduction for protective clothing or protective glasses you wear to protect yourself from the real and likely risk of illness or injury. They must protect you from risks posed by your work duties or your work environment. The items must directly provide a degree of protection against that risk.

    Last modified: 30 Jun 2022QC 63689