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  • Common expenses T–U

    Details on claiming common apprentice and trainee expenses for:

    Tools and equipment

    You can claim a deduction for tools and equipment you use to perform your duties as an apprentice or trainee. For example, an air compressor, scissors, knives, power drill or hammer.

    If you're a new apprentice and you receive government funded tools through your employer or your employer reimburses you for the cost of your tools and equipment, you can't claim a deduction for them.

    You can also claim a deduction for the cost of insurance and repairs to tools and equipment that you use for work purposes.

    You can only claim a deduction for the work-related use of the item.

    If a tool or piece of equipment cost you $300 or less, you can claim a deduction for the full amount in the year you buy it, if:

    • you use it mainly for work purposes
    • it's not part of a set that together cost more than $300.

    You can claim a deduction for the cost over the life of the item (that is, decline in value), if the tool or equipment:

    • cost more than $300
    • is part of a set that together cost more than $300.

    If you bought the tool or item of equipment part way through the year, you can only claim a deduction for decline in the value for the period of the income year that you own it.

    Travel expenses

    You can claim a deduction for travel expenses you incur when your work requires you to both:

    • travel for work
    • sleep away from your home overnight in the course of performing your employment duties.

    Expenses you can claim include your accommodation, meals and expenses which are incidental to the travel (incidentals). For example, when you travel interstate to attend a work-related conference, seminar or training course.

    You can't claim a deduction for travel expenses where you haven't incurred any expenses, because:

    • you slept in accommodation your employer provides
    • you eat meals your employer provides
    • your employer or a third party reimburses you for any costs you incur.

    Receiving an allowance from your employer doesn't automatically mean you can claim a deduction. In all cases, you need to be able to show:

    • you were away overnight
    • you spent the money
    • the travel directly relates to earning your employment income
    • how you work out your claim.

    Example: travel expenses deductible

    Leon is training to be a long haul train driver. Leon's shifts often require him to sleep away from his home overnight for work. When Leon's shift involves an overnight stay, his employer provides him with accommodation at the depot. His employer also pays him an allowance to cover his meals for the period he is travelling.

    As Leon is sleeping away from his home in the course of performing his employment duties, he can claim a deduction for the cost of the meals he buys and any incidental expenses he incurs while he is travelling for work.

    Leon can't claim a deduction for accommodation. His accommodation is provided by Leon's employer so he does not incur any accommodation expenses.

    End of example

    If you receive a travel allowance you must include it as assessable income in your tax return unless all of the following apply:

    • the travel allowance is not on your income statement or payment summary
    • the travel allowance doesn't exceed the Commissioner's reasonable amount
    • you spent the whole allowance on deductible accommodation, meal and incidental expenses (if applicable).

    The Commissioner's reasonable amount is set each year. The amount is used to determine whether an exception from keeping written evidence applies for the following expenses which are covered by a travel allowance:

    • accommodation
    • meal
    • incidentals.

    Example: allowance not on income statement

    Bailey is an apprentice form worker. Occasionally Bailey's employer requires him to travel interstate or to a regional area and stay there for a few nights to work on a project.

    Bailey's employer pays him a travel allowance to cover his accommodation and meals while he is travelling for work. The travel allowance does not exceed the Commissioner's reasonable amounts and is the employer reports the amount on Bailey's income statement at the end of the income year.

    When he travels for work, Bailey spends the entire amount of his allowance on accommodation and meals.

    Bailey doesn't have to include the travel allowance as income in his tax return because:

    • the travel allowance was not on his income statement
    • the travel allowance he received didn't exceed the Commissioner's reasonable amount
    • Bailey spent the whole allowance on deductible accommodation and meal expenses.

    Bailey can't claim a deduction for his accommodation and meal expenses.

    End of example

     

    Example: allowance on income statement

    Leah is a trainee firefighter. The team Leah works in specialises in search and rescue operations. As part of her training, Leah is required to take part in practice search and rescue operations. These practices often take place in areas outside the metropolitan area Leah is stationed at and involve her sleeping away from home for a couple of nights.

    Leah receives a travel allowance to cover her accommodation, meals and incidental expenses when she is required to travel and stay away from her home overnight for work.

    At the end of the income year, her employer reports the travel allowance on her income statement.

    Leah includes the travel allowance in her tax return. She also claims a deduction for the amount she spent on accommodation, meals and incidental expenses when she travelled for work.

    End of example

    You don’t have to keep written evidence such as receipts if both of the following apply:

    • you receive a travel allowance from your employer for the expenses
    • your deduction is less than the Commissioner’s reasonable amount.

    If you claim a deduction for more than the Commissioner’s reasonable amount you need to keep receipts for all expenses, not just for the amount over the Commissioner’s reasonable amount.

    Even if you are not required to keep written evidence such as receipts, you must be able to explain your claim and show you spent the amounts. For example, show your work diary, that you received and correctly declared your travel allowance and bank statements.

    Union and professional association fees

    You can claim a deduction for union and professional association fees you pay. You can use your income statement as evidence of the amount you pay if it's shown on there.

    Working from home expenses

    You may be able to claim a deduction for working from home expenses you incur as an employee. Your expenses may include additional running expenses such as electricity, the decline in value of equipment or furniture, phone and internet expenses. You must:

    • use one of the methods set out by us to calculate your deduction
    • keep the correct records for the method you choose.

    There are some expenses you can't claim a deduction for as an employee. Employees who work at home can't claim costs:

    • for coffee, tea, milk and other general household items your employer may provide you at work
    • for your children and their education including  
      • setting them up for online learning
      • teaching them at home
      • buying equipment such as iPads and desks
       
    • your employer pays for or reimburses you for the expense
    • for the decline in value of items your employer provides – for example, a laptop or a phone.

    Generally, as an employee, you can’t claim occupancy expenses (rent, rates, mortgage interest and house insurance premiums), unless your home is your 'place of business'.

    You can’t claim a deduction if your employer paid for your home office to be set up or they reimburse you for expenses you incur.

    Use the Home office expenses calculators to help you work out the amount you can claim as a deduction for home office expenses.

    For more information, see

    • PS LA 2001/6 Verification approaches for home office and electronic device expenses
    • TR 93/30 Income tax: deductions for home office expenses
    • PCG 2020/3 Claiming deductions for additional running expenses incurred whilst working from home due to COVID-19

    For more apprentice and trainee expenses, see

    Find out more about apprentice and trainee members

      Last modified: 03 Feb 2022QC 67770