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  • Common expenses T–W

    Details on claiming common Australian defence force personnel expenses for:

    Taxi, ride-share, public transport and car hire

    You can claim a deduction for transport costs if you travel in the course of performing your work. For example, taking a taxi from your regular workplace to another work location.

    You can’t claim a deduction for travel expenses between home and work, these are private expenses.

    You can't claim a deduction if your employer reimburses you for these expenses.

    Tools and equipment

    You can claim a deduction for tools and equipment you use to perform your duties as an ADF member.

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

    If the tool or equipment cost you $300 or less, you can claim 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 the decline in value for the period of the income year that you own it.

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

    You can’t claim a deduction for tools and equipment that your employer or a third-party supplies.

    Example: equipment for work-related use

    Brendan's job requires him to complete his case reports at home. Brendan carries his work laptop and relevant documents between his office and his home to complete the case reports. He purchased a briefcase with laptop compartment to carry his laptop and documents for $275. Brendan only uses the briefcase to transport work items.

    Brendan can claim a deduction for the cost of the briefcase as his job requires him to transport the laptop and documents to work and the briefcase is suitable to carry all the items.

    As Brendan only used the briefcase for work and it cost less than $300, he can claim a deduction for the whole cost of the briefcase ($275) in the income year that he bought the briefcase.

    End of example

    See also:

    Travel expenses

    You can claim a deduction for 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).

    You can't claim a deduction for travel expenses where you don't incur 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 must be able to show:

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

    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.

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

    • you received 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.

    See also:

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

    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.

    See also:

    Weight loss expenses

    You can't claim a deduction for weight loss expenses. It's a private expense.

    Watches and timepieces

    You can't claim a deduction for the cost of buying or maintaining watches or timepieces, even if you require one as part of your job. This is a private expense.

    However, you can claim a deduction if your watch has special characteristics that you use for a work-related purpose.

    If the watch cost more than $300, you can claim a deduction for its decline in value over the effective life.

    You can claim a deduction for the cost of repairs, batteries and watchbands for special watches. You only claim a deduction for the amount you use the item at work if you also wear it for private purposes.

    Similar to ordinary watches, a smart watch (that connects to a phone or other device to provide notifications, apps and GPS, for example) is a private expense and not deductible under ordinary circumstances.

    However, if you require some of the smart watch's functions as an essential part of your employment activities you may be able to apportion the expense between your private and work use. In order to show your work-related use of the watch, you will need to keep a diary or similar record of your use of the watch for a representative period.

    Example: Specialty watch apportioned for private use

    Brandon is a clearance diver. He buys a diving watch that he uses every day for work. He also uses the watch when he goes diving recreationally. As the watch cost more than $300, he is entitled to claim the decline in value of the watch as a deduction. However, Brandon would need to apportion the decline in value amount between his work and private use and claim only the portion that relates to his work.

    End of example


    Example: smart watch not deductible

    Dianna is an Army driver. As part of her role, she needs to keep GPS records of where she travels. The department has provided her with a GPS for this purpose. Dianna buys a smart watch so it is easier for her to keep personal GPS records and to check messages sent to her phone. She receives both private and work-related messages via the smart watch.

    Dianna can't claim a deduction for the smart watch, because her employer provides her with the necessary tools to fulfil her work functions. The ability to check messages on her phone with her watch is not a part of her employment duties and the cost of the watch is not a deductible expense for her work.

    End of example

    For more ADF member expenses, see:

    Find out more about ADF members:

      Last modified: 10 Feb 2021QC 26110