Work-related self-education expenses

When you can make a claim

You can claim a deduction for self-education expenses that have a sufficient connection to your current work activities. Self-education could include a formal course or attendance at a seminar.

For a course to be sufficiently connected to your current work activities, it must:

  • maintain or improve the specific skills or knowledge you need in your current employment, or
  • result in, or be likely to result in, an increase in your income from your current employment.

If your self-education satisfies one of these conditions, you can generally claim study-related items such as:

  • textbooks
  • course fees
  • stationery
  • internet access
  • student union fees
  • travel expenses to and from the place of education
  • decline in value (depreciation) of equipment you use in your study, such as a computer.

You can only claim the decline in value based on how much you use the equipment for study purposes. For example, if you use your computer half for private purposes and half for study purposes, you can only claim half the decline in value.

Example 12

Francesco is an apprentice who travels a long distance to a technical college to undertake his apprenticeship course for two consecutive days each fortnight. He is allowed a deduction for the cost of travel to and from his place of education, overnight accommodation, meals and incidentals.

End of example

If your self-education expenses relate to a course you undertook at a school, college or university, you may have to reduce your allowable self-education expenses by $250. Whether or not your claim is reduced by $250 depends on the category of your expenses and does not apply to all self-education expenses.

Example 13

Danh incurs self-education expenses totalling $1,650 in connection with his apprenticeship course at a technical college. Some of Danh’s self-education expenses fall under the category that requires Danh to reduce his claim by $250. Therefore he reduces his claim by $250 and is allowed a deduction for $1,400.

End of example

Next steps:

Self-education expenses you cannot claim

You cannot claim a deduction for your self-education expenses that do not have a sufficient connection to your current employment even though they:

  • might be generally related to it
  • enable you to get a new job.

Example 14

David is studying carpentry while working as a timber salesperson. He is offered a new position supervising the assembly of timber frames on an understanding that he will continue his studies. David cannot claim deductions for his study expenses while employed as a salesperson. He can claim deductions for his study expenses while employed as a framing supervisor.

End of example

You cannot claim a deduction for a pre-vocational course such as a pre-apprenticeship in building construction.

You cannot claim a deduction for the initial cost of obtaining your state regulatory body work permits or certificates. These include 'cards' required to work on building sites, occupational health and safety certificates or other regulatory permits.

You can claim a deduction for any renewal fees for regulatory permits, certificates, or 'cards' as discussed above.

Note: If your employer pays for the course fees outright, or reimburses you upon your completion of your course, you are not entitled to claim a deduction for your course fees.

Keeping records of your self-education expenses

You must keep records and these can be:

  • receipts or other written evidence of your expenses, including receipts for depreciating assets you have purchased (for example, a laptop)
  • diary entries you make to record
    • how much you used your equipment, home office, telephone and internet access for self-education purposes over a representative four-week period
    • your small expenses ($10 or less) totalling no more than $200
    • expenses you cannot get any kind of evidence for, regardless of the amount.

See also:

    Last modified: 05 Oct 2016QC 24373