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  • Common expenses A–F

    Details on common building and construction employees' expenses for:

    Award transport payments (fares allowance)

    Allowances you receive from your employer for transport or car expenses that are paid under an award must be included in your tax return. You include these allowances as assessable income.

    You can claim a deduction for expenses covered by award transport payments, if the expenses are for work-related travel, and you have actually spent the money.

    You will need to be able to show how you work out your claim if we request this information. You don’t need written evidence if your claim is less than the amount in the award as at 29 October 1986. If you're unsure of this amount, your union or employer can tell you.

    See also:

    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 or have shifting places of employment.

    To be able to claim a deduction for the cost of trips between home and work while carrying bulky tools or equipment, all the following conditions must be 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 are considered to have shifting place of work where you have no fixed place of work and you continually travel from one work site to another.

    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 from your first job as carpenter to your second job as a TAFE teacher
    • to and from an alternate workplace for the same employer on the same day – for example, travelling between separate work sites for your employer
    • from home directly to an alternate workplace – for example, travelling from home to complete a quote at a client's premises that isn't your regular work location.

    You can't claim car expenses for a car you use under a salary sacrifice or novated lease arrangement. This is because it's usually your employer leasing the car from the financing company and making it available for your use. You can however claim additional work-related expenses you incur that are associated with your work use of the car, such as parking and tolls.

    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 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 also need to 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'. Use the Work-related car expenses calculator to 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 records to show your work-related use of the vehicle.

    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: transporting bulky tools and equipment

    Andre is an employee concreter. He needs to provide his own tools and equipment to perform his work duties. The tools and equipment Andre provides include a wheelbarrow, cement mixer, shovels, screeds and buckets.

    His employer doesn't supply a secure tool storage area at his workplace, so he must transport his tools and equipment to and from work every day.

    The tools and equipment Andre uses for work are considered to be bulky because:

    • of the size and weight, they awkward to transport, and
    • they can only be transported conveniently by a motor vehicle.

    Andre can claim a deduction for the expenses he incurs to transport his tools and equipment between his home and work because:

    • the tools and equipment are:
      • essential for Andre to perform his work duties
      • considered to be bulky, and
    • there is no secure storage at his workplace.
    End of example

     

    Example: secure storage available

    Jocelyn works as an electrician on a large construction site. She drives to the site each workday. There is a secure fence around the construction site and security officers at the entrance. The employer provides each employee with their own tool locker with a combination lock.

    Joeclyn's tools are large and heavy. The tool locker provides plenty of space for Jocelyn to store her tools, however she chooses to take her tools home every day. Although her tools are bulky due to their size and weight, Jocelyn has a secure place to store them at the construction site. It is her personal choice to transport them between home and work each day. As such Jocelyn can't claim a deduction for her travel between home and work.

    End of example

     

    Example: tools and transport provided

    Priya's employer provides her with a van and the materials and tools she needs to carry out her work duties. Priya uses her own car to travel to her employer's head office where she picks up the work van and travels to her worksite.

    Priya can't claim a deduction for the travel between her home and work to pick up her work van. This is a private expense.

    End of example

     

    Example: travelling between workplaces

    Jack and Bill are carpenters who construct roof trusses and cabinets. They work on their designs from an office space and then travel to the client's home to construct and install their designs.

    Jack and Bill can claim a deduction for the cost of travel between the office and their client's houses.

    They can't claim a deduction for travel between their home and office, as this travel is to and from their normal workplace. Therefore it's a private expense.

    End of example

     

    Example: shifting workplaces

    Ramesh is a shop fitter and must travel to several worksites each day to provide quotes to clients and work on various jobs. He travels to the first location from his home and returns home at the end of the day from the last work site he worked.

    Ramesh can claim a deduction for his car expenses between his home and work because he has no fixed place of work and continually travels from one work site to another. Ramesh can also claim a deduction for his car expenses for the travel between each site during the day.

    If Ramesh only attended one site and worked there for several days until the job was finished, he would not be able to claim his car expenses for those days as he would not have shifting workplaces.

    End of example

     

    Example: unexpected travel to alternative workplace

    Bridie, a bobcat operator, arrives at her normal worksite. Her employer then sends her to another work site to cover for a sick operator.

    Bridie can claim a deduction for the travel between her normal work site and the alternate work site that isn't her regular workplace, and then home.

    End of example

     

    Example: vehicle other than a car

    Loc owns a vehicle with a gross vehicle mass of 2,402kg and a kerb weight of 1,040kg. The payload, or carrying capacity weight, of Loc's vehicle is:

    2,402kg − 1,040kg = 1,362kg

    As the vehicle's payload, or carrying capacity, is greater than 1,000kg (or one tonne) Loc's vehicle doesn't meet the definition of a car.

    Loc can't claim using the logbook or cents per kilometre method. However, he can claim the actual vehicle expenses that relate to work travel.

    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)

    With a few exceptions, clothing is a private expense. You can't claim conventional clothing (including footwear) as a work-related expense, even if your employer requires you to wear it and you only wear these items of clothing at work.

    'Conventional clothing' is everyday clothing worn by people regardless of their occupation – for example, jeans or business attire.

    You can claim a deduction for costs you incur to buy, hire, repair or replace clothing, uniforms and footwear you wear at work if it's in one of the following categories:

    • protective clothing
    • occupation specific clothing
    • a compulsory uniform, that your employer strictly and consistently enforces you wear by workplace agreement or policy and distinctly identifies either
      • you as an employee working for a particular employer
      • the products or services your employer provides
    • a non-compulsory uniform, that your employer listed on the Register of Approved Occupational Clothing with AusIndustry.

    Protective clothing is clothing you wear to protect yourself from specific risks of injury or illness 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). Conventional clothes you wear at work are not regarded as protective clothing if they lack protective qualities designed for the risks of your work. This includes jeans, drill shirts, shorts, trousers, socks and closed shoes.

    Occupation specific clothing distinctly identifies you as a person associated with a particular profession, trade or occupation (for example a judge's robes or a chef's chequered pants). Items traditionally worn in a profession are not occupation-specific where the clothing is worn by multiple professions.

    You can't claim a deduction if your employer buys, repairs or replaces your clothing.

    Example: conventional clothing

    Richard, an apprentice carpenter, works on a building site. He wears jeans with t-shirts or long sleeve shirts at work as they are comfortable. While the jeans and shirts afford Richard some protection from skin abrasions when handling tools and building materials, they provide limited protection from injury.

    The jeans and shirts that Richard wears to work are commonly worn as conventional clothing. These don't have protective features or functions to protect the wearer or cope with rigorous working conditions.

    Richard can't claim a deduction for the costs he incurs to buy these items because they're conventional clothing and the cost is a private expense.

    End of example

     

    Example: protective clothing

    Saskia is a builder and works at an industrial park. It is a requirement that while on site all employees wear steel-capped boots and a helmet (hard hat). These items are necessary for Saskia to wear while at work as they provide protection from the risk of illness or injury posed by her income earning activities and the work environment.

    Saskia can claim a deduction for the costs she incurs as the items are protective. Saskia's expenses also were not paid for by her employer and the employer doesn't reimburse her.

    End of example

    For more detailed information, see:

    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 work duties. For example, the cost you incur to get a heavy vehicle permit.

    See also:

    Fines and penalties

    You can't claim a deduction for any fines you get when you either travel to work or incur during work. Fines may include parking and speeding fines or penalties. For example, a fine you receive for parking illegally outside your worksite.

    First aid courses

    You can claim a deduction for the cost of first aid training courses if you are both:

    • a designated first aid person
    • need to complete a first aid training course to assist in emergency work situations.

    You can't claim a deduction if your employer pays for or reimburses you for the cost of the course.

    For more building and construction employee expenses, see:

      Last modified: 10 Feb 2021QC 24373