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  • Common expenses G–O

    Details on claiming common ADF personnel expenses for:

    Glasses, contact lenses and anti-glare glasses

    You can't claim a deduction for prescription glasses or contact lenses, even if you need to wear them while working. These are private expenses.

    You can claim a deduction for the cost of protective glasses if you wear them to reduce the real and likely risk of illness or injury while working in the ADF. Protective glasses include anti-glare or photochromatic glasses, sunglasses, safety glasses or goggles.

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

    See also:

    Grooming expenses

    You can't claim a deduction for hairdressing, cosmetics, hair and skin care products, even though:

    • you may be paid an allowance for grooming
    • your employer expects you to be well groomed when at work.

    All grooming expenses and products are private expenses.

    Home office expenses

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

    You can only claim a deduction for the additional running costs you incur as a result of working from home. For example, if you work in your lounge room when others are also present, you can't claim the cost of lighting and heating or cooling. This is because there is no additional cost for those expenses as a result of working from home.

    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 provided by your employer – for example, a laptop or a phone.

    There are several methods you can use to work out your home office expenses. The methods you can use depend on your circumstances. You must meet the record keeping requirements and working criteria to use each method.

    You generally can’t claim occupancy expenses (rent, rates, mortgage interest and house insurance premiums) unless your home office is your 'place of business'. This occurs where your home office is both:

    • your principal place of work because no other work location is provided by your employer
    • exclusively or almost exclusively used for work purposes.

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

    The Home office expenses calculator helps you work out the amount you can claim as a deduction for home office expenses.

    For more detailed information and record keeping requirements for each method, see:

    See also:

    • 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

    Laundry and maintenance

    You can claim a deduction for the cost of washing, drying and ironing clothing you wear at work if it's:

    • protective (for example, a hi-vis jacket)
    • occupation specific and not a conventional, everyday piece of clothing such as jeans or general business attire
    • a uniform either non-compulsory and registered with AusIndustry or compulsory.

    This also includes laundromat and dry-cleaning expenses.

    We consider that a reasonable basis for working out your laundry claim is:

    • $1 per load if it only contains clothing you wear at work from one categories above
    • 50c per load if you mix personal items of clothing with work clothing from one of the categories above.

    You can claim the actual costs you incurred for repairing and dry-cleaning expenses.

    If your laundry claim (excluding dry-cleaning expenses) is $150 or less, you don't need to keep records but you will still need to calculate and be able to show how you work out your claim. This isn't an automatic deduction.

    If you're paid a uniform maintenance allowance to buy, repair and maintain your uniform, you must include this on your tax return as income. You can claim a deduction for your expenses, but you must be able to provide evidence of your claim.

    Example: how to record your uniform maintenance allowance

    Louis receives a uniform maintenance allowance of $500. He buys compulsory military uniform items costing $230. The annual cost of dry-cleaning his uniform is $195.

    Louis must include $500 as income in his tax return. He can claim a deduction of $425 if he kept records for both the uniform and dry-cleaning costs.

    End of example

    See also:

    Meal and snack expenses

    You can't claim for the cost of food, drink or snacks you consume in the course of your normal working hours, even if you receive a meal allowance. These are private expenses.

    See also:

    Mess fees and functions

    Compulsory mess subscriptions

    You can claim a deduction for the part of your compulsory mess subscriptions that relates to work activities. You can obtain details of the amount paid for mess subscriptions from mess accounts provided by your mess committee.

    You can't claim a deduction for amounts paid for food, drink or entertainment.

    Attendance at mess functions

    You can't claim a deduction for costs incurred in attending compulsory or non- compulsory mess functions. This includes functions such as dinners, dances and cocktail parties.

    It is recognised that:

    • many of these functions are compulsory
    • behaviour at such functions may be taken into account for promotion
    • mess function etiquette is learnt by attending functions.

    Expenses you may incur include food, drink and entertaining guests in an official or informal capacity. These expenses are considered to be private and not sufficiently related to the production of income. The cost of travelling to and from mess functions is also not deductible.

    Music streaming services, CDs, audio books or podcasts

    You can't claim a deduction for the cost of music streaming services, CDs, audio books or podcasts that you use at work. Even if you use these to relieve fatigue or keep you motivated at work, these items aren't essential to earning your income. They are private expenses.

    Newspapers and other news services, magazines and professional publications

    The cost of newspapers, other news services and magazines are generally private expenses and not deductible.

    You can claim a deduction for the cost of buying or subscribing to a professional publication , newspaper, news service or magazine if you can show:

    • a direct connection between your specific work duties and the content
    • the content is specific to your employment and is not general in nature.

    If you use the publication for work and private purposes, you can only claim the portion related to your work-related use.

    Overtime meal expenses

    You can claim a deduction for the cost of a meal you buy and eat when you work overtime, if all of the following apply:

    • you receive an overtime meal allowance under an industrial law, award or agreement
    • the allowance is on your income statement as a separate allowance
    • you include the allowance in your tax return as income.

    You can't claim a deduction if the allowance is part of your salary and wages and not included as a separate allowance on your income statement.

    You generally need to get and keep written evidence, such as receipts, when you claim a deduction. However, each year we set an amount you can claim for overtime meal expenses without receipts. This is called the 'reasonable amount'. If you receive an overtime meal allowance, are claiming a deduction and spent:

    • up to reasonable amount, you don’t have to get and keep receipts
    • more than the reasonable amount, you must get and keep receipts for your expenses.

    In all cases, you need to be able to show:

    • you spent the money
    • how you worked out your claim.

    See also:

    • Overtime meals
    • TD 2020/5 Income tax: what are the reasonable travel and overtime meal allowance expense amounts for the 2020-21 income year?

    For more ADF member expenses, see:

      Last modified: 10 Feb 2021QC 26110