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  • Common expenses P–S

    Details on claiming common agricultural worker expenses for:

    Phone, data and internet expenses

    You can claim a deduction for phone, data and internet costs if you use your own phone or electronic devices for work purposes.

    If your phone, data and internet use for work is incidental and you're not claiming more than $50 in total, you do not need to keep records.

    If you claim more than $50, you need to keep records to show your work use. For example, an itemised bill where you can identify your work-related calls and data use.

    You can’t claim a deduction if your employer:

    • provides you with a phone for work and pays for your usage
    • reimburses you for the costs you incur.

    You can't claim a deduction for any phone calls to family and friends, even while travelling for work. This is because they are personal calls.

    Example: calculating phone expenses

    George is an agricultural engineer who works with farmers to improve their farming equipment and designing dams. He uses his personal mobile phone for work purposes (mostly outgoing calls) when he is onsite. He's on a set mobile phone plan of $49 each month and rarely exceeds the plan cap.

    He receives an itemised account from his phone provider each month by email, which includes details of his individual calls.

    George regularly prints his monthly phone accounts and for one month he highlights his work-related calls. He also makes notes on the highlighted itemised account about who he has called - for example his manager and his clients.

    Out of the 400 calls he had made in a four week-period, George works out that 228 (57%) of the individual call expenses billed to him are for work and applies that percentage to his cap amount of $49 a month. He works out his calls for work purposes as follows:

    Total work calls ÷ total number of calls = work use percentage for calls:

    228 ÷ 400 = 57%

    George can claim 57% of the total bill of $49 for each month for work purposes:

    $49 × 0.57 = $27.93

    Since George was only at work for 46 weeks of that year (10.6 months), he calculates his work-related mobile phone expense deduction as follows:

    10.6 months × $27.93 = $296

    End of example

     

    Example: work and private use

    Sylvette is a plant biologist who uses her computer and personal internet account at home to access her work emails and manage her appointments. Sylvette uses her computer and the internet for both work and private purposes.

    Sylvette keeps a diary for a four-week period, recording the times she used the internet for work and private purposes. Sylvette's internet use diary showed 10%% of her internet time was for work-related activities and 90% was for private use. As her internet service provider charge for the year was $1,200 she can claim:

    $1,200 × 10% = $120 as work-related internet use.

    If there was anyone else that accesses the internet connection, Sylvette will need to reduce her claim to account for their use.

    End of example

    See also:

    Protective items

    You can claim a deduction for the cost of protective items if you wear them to protect yourself from the real and likely risk of injury or illness that you are exposed to in in your work environment, or while performing your work duties. To be considered protective, the item must provide a sufficient degree of protection against the risks of illness or injury you are exposed to in carrying out your work duties. Protective items can include safety glasses, helmets and breathing masks.

    For example, a cattle farmer can claim a deduction for the cost of gloves and steel-capped boots.

    You can also claim the costs you incur to repair, replace or clean protective items.

    You can't claim a deduction if your employer:

    • supplies the protective items
    • reimburses you for the cost you incur to buy protective items.

    Example: protective items

    Fred is an employee assistant farmhand who works in hay production. He is required to wear safety glasses, a breathing mask and a safety visor on the farm. If he doesn't wear them, he is at risk of being injured. There is a clear connection between the need for these protective items and Fred's employment duties.

    The protective items are provided by Fred's employer and if he was to purchase his own equipment his employer would reimburse him for these costs. Fred can't claim a deduction for the safety glasses, breathing mask and safety visor as he doesn't incur any costs.

    End of example

    See also:

    Removal and relocation expenses

    You can’t claim a deduction for the cost to transfer or relocate to a new work location. This is the case whether the move is a condition of your existing job or you are taking up a new job.

    Repairs to tools and equipment

    You can claim a deduction for repairs to tools and equipment you use for work. If you also use them for private purposes, you can only claim an amount for your work-related use.

    Example

    John is an employee crop farm worker and uses a variety of tree pruning tools in his job.

    One of tools breaks and John is required to pay $50 to repair it. John was not reimbursed for the repair costs he incurred and he only uses the tree pruner for work-related purposes.

    John is able to claim a deduction for the costs he incurs to repair the tree pruner, as he regularly uses this piece of equipment in his job as a crop farm worker and he was not reimbursed for the expense incurred.

    End of example

    Self-education and study expenses

    You can claim a deduction for self-education and study expenses if it directly relates to your current employment as an agricultural worker and it:

    • maintains or improves the skills and knowledge you need for your current duties
    • results in or is likely to result in an increase in your income from your current employment.

    You can't claim a deduction if the self-education or study course:

    • doesn't have a connection with your current employment
    • only relates in a general way to your current employment
    • enables you to get employment or change employment.

    If your self-education and study expenses are deductible, you can claim expenses such as course fees, student and amenities fees, textbooks, academic journals and stationery expenses. You will also be able to claim a deduction for the decline in value of any depreciating assets which cost more than $300 that you use for your work-related study.

    You can't claim a deduction for the repayments you make on your study and training support loans. Study and training support loans include:

    • Higher Education Loan Program (HELP)
    • VET Student Loans (VETSL)
    • Trade Support Loan Program (TSL)
    • Student Financial Supplement Scheme (SFSS)
    • Student Start-up Loan (SSL).

    While course fees may be deductible, fees you incur under the Higher Education Contribution Scheme Higher Education Loan Program (HECS-HELP) scheme are not deductible.

    If you have set aside a home office to do your study, you may also be able to claim home office running expenses, but not occupancy expenses. You generally can't claim a deduction for the first $250 of expenses for self-education.

    Example: self-education related to income-earning activities

    Doug is studying biochemistry while working as a machinery operator for a cotton farm. He is offered a biochemist crop consultant role with the farm on an understanding that he will continue his studies.

    Doug can't claim his study expenses while employed as a machinery operator, but he can claim his study expenses from the point he was employed as a crop consultant.

    End of example

     

    Example: self-education resulting in increased income

    Dan is a currently working as an employee in livestock production. He wants to become a livestock production specialist as the pay rate is higher and there is a specialist job opportunity available with his current employer. Dan enrols in a Diploma of Agriculture at his local university.

    Dan can claim a deduction for the costs he incurs in completing his self-education course. This is because it will lead to an increase in income from his current employment.

    End of example

     

    Example: study not relevant to current duties

    Kaitlin is a shearer. She decides she would like to increase her knowledge about irrigation management and enrols in an irrigation management course.

    Kaitlin can't claim a deduction for her self-education expenses as the irrigation management course isn't relevant to her current employment as a shearer.

    End of example

    For more detailed information and record keeping, see:

    See also:

    Seminars, conferences and training courses

    You can claim a deduction for the cost of seminars, conferences and training courses that relate to your work as an agricultural worker.

    The costs you can claim include fares to attend the venue where the seminar, conference or training course is held and registration costs. If you need to travel and stay away from home overnight to attend such an event, you can also claim the cost of accommodation and meals.

    You may not be able to claim all of your expenses if attending a seminar, conference or training course is for both work-related and private purposes. If the private purpose is incidental, such as a catered lunch or a reception for delegates, you can still claim all your expenses. However, if the main purpose is not work-related, such as attending a conference while on a holiday, you can only claim the direct costs. Direct costs include the registration costs.

    Where you have a dual purpose for attending the seminar, conference or training course, for example you add a holiday of one week to a training course that runs for one week, then you can only claim the work-related portion.

    Example: attending a conference

    Zachary is a plant propagation manager for a nursery. As a part of his role, Zachery is required to manage the preparation and planting of tissue cultures and cuttings for propagation. He attends the National Nursery & Garden Conference each year to learn about new propagation techniques, products and equipment that he can use in the nursery operation.

    Zachary can claim a deduction for the cost he incurs attending the conference as he is maintaining or increasing the knowledge and skills he needs to earn his income in his current employment.

    End of example

    Sunglasses, sunhats and sunscreen

    You can claim a deduction for the work-related use of sunglasses, sunhats and sunscreen if you:

    • must work in the sun for extended periods
    • use these items to protect yourself from the real and likely risk of illness or injury while at work.

    This includes prescription sunglasses and anti-glare glasses.

    You can only claim a deduction for the work-related use of the products if you also wear them for private purposes.

    Example: claiming sunglasses

    Harold is an employee fruit picker in far north Queensland. He regularly works at more than one location each day and drives his employer's truck from job to job. He wears sunglasses for protection against the glare of the sun while driving the truck and picking fruit in the orchards. He also needs to wear glasses while driving, for his short-sightedness.

    He buys a pair of prescription sunglasses which counter the glare during day driving. He also buys a pair of untinted prescription glasses for night driving.

    Harold can claim a deduction for the prescription sunglasses because they protect his eyes from the glare of the sun, but not for the untinted prescription glasses.

    If Harold also uses his prescription sunglasses for private purposes, he will have to apportion his deduction to account for his private use.

    End of example

    See also:

    For more agricultural worker expenses, see:

      Last modified: 17 Feb 2021QC 61560