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  • Common expenses A–F

    Details on claiming common ADF member expenses for:

    Car expenses

    You can't claim a deduction for normal trips between your home and work. These are private expenses:

    • even if you live a long way from your usual workplace
    • have to work outside normal business hours (for example, weekend or early morning shifts).

    In limited circumstances, you can claim the cost of trips between home and work, such as where you carry bulky tools or equipment for work. You can claim a deduction for the cost of these trips if all the following conditions are met:

    • the tools or equipment are essential to perform your employment duties
    • the tools or equipment are bulky, meaning that
      • because of the size and weight, they are awkward to transport, and
      • can only be transported conveniently using a motor vehicle
    • there is no secure storage for such items at the workplace.

    It will not be sufficient if you transport the tools or equipment merely as a matter of choice. For example, if your employer provides reasonably secure storage, your decision to transport items home will be a matter of choice.

    You can also claim a deduction for the cost of using a car you own, lease or hire (under a hire-purchase agreement) when you drive:

    • between separate jobs on the same day – for example, travelling to a separate job
    • to and from an alternate workplace that's not a regular workplace, while you're still on duty, and back to your normal workplace or directly home.

    To claim a deduction, you must keep records of your car use. You can choose between the logbook method or the cents per kilometre method to work out your deduction.

    If you use the logbook method, you need to keep a valid logbook to help you work out the percentage of work-related use along with written evidence of your car expenses.

    If you use the cents per kilometre method, you need to be able to show how you work out your work-related kilometres. You must be able to show that those kilometres were work-related.

    To claim a deduction in your tax return, include the amount of your claim at ‘Work-related car expenses’. The Work-related car expenses calculator can help you work out the amount you can claim as a deduction.

    You can’t use the cents per kilometre or logbook methods to work out your claim for a:

    • motorcycle
    • vehicle with a carrying capacity of one tonne or more (such as a ute)
    • vehicle that can transport nine passengers or more (such as a people mover).

    For these vehicles, you can claim the actual expenses you incur for your work-related travel. This includes costs such as fuel, oil, insurance and loan interest along with the decline in value of the vehicle. You must keep receipts for all your expenses and records to show your work-related use of the vehicle. The easiest way to do this is to keep a logbook or documents that provide similar details to a logbook.

    To claim a deduction for actual expenses you incur for a vehicle not defined as a car, include the amount at ‘Work-related travel expenses’.

    Example: eligible to claim for travelling between workplaces

    Amelia travels from her normal Army base to another military base that isn't her regular workplace to attend her annual medical check-up and fitness assessment. She then travels directly home. She uses her own car and her employer does not reimburse her for this travel.

    As this travel is in the course of performing her duties, Amelia can claim a deduction for the cost of each journey.

    End of example


    Example: can partly claim a deduction for work-related travel

    Mackenzie is a Petty Officer in the Navy. She's required to travel from home to present a verbal report to her commanding officer at RAN fleet base. This isn't her regular workplace, and she will return to her regular base at HMAS Penguin after the presentation.

    Mackenzie can claim a deduction for the cost of travelling from home to the fleet base and from the fleet base to HMAS Penguin. However, she can't claim a deduction for the cost of travelling home from HMAS Penguin.

    End of example


    Example: eligible to claim for transporting equipment

    Aaron is notified of an overseas deployment. He needs to prepare his field equipment pack for the deployment. Because of this, he's required to take home his equipment pack and return with it to the base.

    The distance from the base to his home is 15 kilometres. Aaron can claim motor vehicle expenses for 30 kilometres because the equipment is an essential requirement of his income-earning activities and the equipment is considered bulky:

    • because of the size and weight, the equipment pack is awkward to transport, and
    • can only be transported conveniently by motor vehicle.
    End of example


    Example: can't claim for transporting equipment

    Denise is a Private in the Army. Although there is a secure area to store her pack on base, she keeps her knapsack and sleeping bag in her car in preparation for field exercises. While the field exercises aren't regularly scheduled, she chooses to transport her pack to and from work every day.

    Because Denise chooses not to use the secure storage area at her work, she can't claim a deduction for the expenses she incurs to transport her pack between her home and work.

    End of example

    For more detailed information, see:

    See also:

    Child care

    You can't claim a deduction for the cost of child care (including school holidays and before and after school care) when you’re working. It’s a private expense, and the expenses have no direct connection to earning your income.

    Clothing and uniform expenses (including footwear)

    You may be able to claim a deduction for the cost you incur when you buy, hire, repair or replace clothing, uniforms and footwear.

    Compulsory uniforms

    Military service uniforms are compulsory uniforms; you can claim a deduction for items such as:

    • military white, blue or khaki shirts with rank or other embellishments
    • standard matching trousers
    • regulation jumpers and jackets
    • official mess uniform
    • hats or caps with rank or other embellishments
    • service dress shoes
    • service handbags and clutch bags
    • socks and stockings
    • camouflage shirts and trousers.

    This doesn't include items or accessories of a conventional nature. For example, underwear, ordinary fashion shoes, hair accessories, or t-shirts.

    You may be able to claim shoes, socks and stockings where these items are an integral part of a compulsory and distinctive uniform. These items must be included in the ADF uniform policy or guidelines. The policy or guidelines must stipulate the characteristics of the shoes, socks and stockings that qualify them as being distinctive and part of the compulsory uniform.

    The wearing of the uniform must also be consistently enforced, where breaches of the uniform policy gives rise to disciplinary action.

    You can claim a deduction for some special items that are worn with or as part of a uniform that are unconventional in nature – for example, costs for medal mounting.

    Protective clothing

    Protective clothing and footwear protects you from specific risks of illness or injury at work. The clothing must have protective features or functions (for example, steel-capped boots, fire-resistant clothing, or boiler suits that protect conventional clothing).

    You can't claim a deduction for the cost of items that provide you with protection from the natural environment – for example, wet-weather gear and thermal underwear.

    You can't claim a deduction for the cost of protective clothing your employer provides, but you can claim a deduction for the cost of additional items you purchase, such as a Navy diver's additional wetsuit not issued under a uniform code.

    Conventional clothing

    You can't claim a deduction for the costs you incur to buy, hire, repair or replace conventional clothing you wear to work, even if your employer tells you to wear it. 'Conventional clothing' is everyday clothing worn by people regardless of their occupation, including:

    • everyday footwear, such as dress, casual or running shoes
    • conventional hair accessories and earrings
    • clothing you wear for medical reasons, such as support stockings

    conventional clothing that is damaged at work. The only exception is for protective sports footwear worn by members who:

    • must maintain a very high level of fitness well above the ADF general standard
    • derive their income by performing a range of regular strenuous physical activity.

    This could include physical training instructors and those in special combat squads.

    Example: can't claim a deduction for conventional clothing

    Austen is part of an internal protective operation that requires a certain amount of anonymity. For security reasons, Austen is required to wear his everyday (conventional) clothing when gathering intelligence for anti-terrorism activities.

    Austen can't claim a deduction for his clothing expenses as there's no direct link between the clothing expenditure and the activities by which he earns his income.

    End of example
    Physical training clothing

    Sports clothing such as tracksuits, shorts, and sports shoes are considered to be conventional clothing. Therefore, you can't claim a deduction for physical training sport attire, even if it displays your unit's logo or emblem and you're required to wear it.

    If the clothing forms part of a compulsory uniform with an official monogram (such as a regimental crest) and easily identifies you as a member of the ADF, you may be able to claim a deduction.

    Example: can't claim a deduction for sports attire

    Corey is an infantryman and is required to undertake fitness training for two hours per day, three times per week, while on duty. He buys shorts and t-shirts which display his unit's logo and conventional sports shoes. Corey's shorts and t-shirts aren't part of the traditional ADF compulsory uniform and the design is not registered with AusIndustry.

    Corey can't claim a deduction for his shorts, t-shirts and sports shoes.

    End of example

    See also:

    Driver's licence

    You can't claim a deduction for the cost to get or renew your driver's licence, even if you must have it as a condition of employment. This is a private expense.

    You can claim a deduction for additional costs you incur to get a special licence or condition on your licence to perform your employment duties.

    You can't claim a deduction if your employer pays for or reimburses you for the cost to obtain a special license or condition.

    Entertainment and social functions

    You can't claim a deduction for the cost of any entertainment, fundraising or social functions. This applies even if they are compulsory, non-compulsory or you discuss business matters at the event. Entertainment and social functions include the cost of:

    • business breakfasts, lunches or dinners
    • attendance at sporting events
    • gala or social nights
    • concerts or dances
    • cocktail parties
    • other similar types of functions or events.

    These are private expenses because these events don't have a direct connection to your work duties.

    You also can’t claim the cost of travelling to and from functions.

    Extra regimental duties (ERD)

    You can claim a deduction for costs incurred in performing ERDs as long as the ERD activity forms part of your income-earning activities and it isn't a private or domestic expense.

    For more ADF member expenses, see:
      Last modified: 10 Feb 2021QC 26110