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  • Common expenses P–S

    Details on claiming common Australian defence force personnel expenses for:

    Phone, data and internet expenses

    You can claim a deduction for phone, data and internet costs for the work-related use of your own phone or electronic devices.

    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 these are personal calls.

    Example: calculating your phone expenses

    Sebastian uses his mobile phone for work purposes. He is on a set plan of $49 a month and rarely exceeds the plan cap.

    Sebastian receives an itemised account from his phone provider each month by email that includes details of the individual calls he has made.

    At least once a year, Sebastian prints out his account and highlights the work-related calls he made. He makes notes on his account for the first month about who he is calling for work.

    Of the 300 calls he has made in a four-week period, Sebastian works out that 45 (15%) of the calls are for work and applies that percentage to his cap amount of $49 a month.

    Total work calls ÷ total number of calls = work use percentage for calls (45 ÷ 300 = 15%)

    Sebastian can claim 15% of the total bill of $49 for each month for work purposes:

    $49 × 0.15 = $7.35

    As Sebastian only worked for 46 weeks of the year (10.6 months), he calculates his work-related mobile phone expense deduction as follows:

    10.6 months × $7.35 = $77.91

    End of example


    Example: work and private use

    Sylvette uses her computer and personal internet account at home to access her work emails, manage her schedule. Sylvette uses her computer and the internet for work and private purposes.

    Sylvette's internet use diary showed 20% of her internet time was for work-related activities and 60% was for private use. As her internet service provider charge for the year was $1,200 she can claim:

    $1,200 × 20% = $240 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:

    Physical training and fitness expenses

    It is recognised that ADF members must maintain a high standard of general physical fitness. Expenses you incur in maintaining this standard of fitness (for example, fitness courses and gym memberships) are generally private in nature so you can't claim a deduction for these.

    Some ADF members are required to maintain a very high level of fitness well above the general ADF standard. These members derive their income by performing a range of duties designed to keep them physically and mentally prepared. This may include physical training instructors and those in special combat squads.

    If you can demonstrate that your job requires the maintenance of a very high level of fitness you may be able to claim a deduction. The strenuous physical activity must be an essential and regular element of your duties.

    You can claim a deduction for expenses if you're participating in a sporting activity while you're on duty and you are:

    • participating as an official ADF representative at inter-service or combined service competition
    • required to participate in the activity as part of your normal duties.

    You can't claim a deduction for expenses you incur in maintaining fitness. For example, fitness courses and gym memberships.

    You can’t in any circumstances claim a deduction for expenses you incur to buy conventional clothing you use in the course of keeping fit. This includes tracksuits, running or aerobic shoes, socks, sporting shirts or shorts.

    Example: claiming physical training expenses

    Alex is a member of the Special Air Services Regiment. He is paid to maintain the very highest level of fitness. To maintain his fitness level, Alex's fitness regime includes weight training three times a week at a city gym.

    As Alex's weight training is regular and essential to his fitness program, he can claim a deduction for his gym fees, transport costs and protective sport shoes.

    End of example


    Example: claiming for on duty sporting activity

    Chris is required to participate in football on his weekly sports afternoon. On those occasions he's considered to be on duty. He also plays with the same team in the local civilian competition on weekends.

    Chris can claim a deduction for transport expenses for his sports afternoon, but not for his weekend sport.

    End of example


    Example: can't claim a deduction for extra physical training

    Jason, an infantryman, is required to undertake fitness training for two hours per day, three times per week while on duty. He also attends his local gym once a week in his own time.

    However, as Jason isn't required to maintain a level of fitness above the general Army standard, he can't claim a deduction for any costs incurred in attending the gym.

    End of example

    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.

    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 ADF member 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: Education not related to current employment

    John is considering discharging and would like to go into business for himself. He's doing a part-time course in Business Administration. As the course isn't related to his current employment, he can't claim a deduction.

    End of example

    For more detailed information and record keeping, see:

    Seminars, conferences and training courses

    You can claim a deduction for the cost of seminars, conferences and training courses that relate to your work in the ADF.

    The costs you can claim includes 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: Education related to current employment

    Frances is a truck driver in the Army based in Singleton. She travels to Sydney to attend a three-day heavy vehicle defensive driving course.

    Frances can claim a deduction for costs she incurs in attending the course because the course will improve her skills for current employment. She can't claim for any costs paid for or reimbursed by her employer.

    End of example

    Sunglasses, sunhats and sunscreen

    You can claim a deduction for the work-related use of sunglasses, sunhats and sunscreen lotions 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.

    For more ADF member expenses, see:

      Last modified: 10 Feb 2021QC 26110