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  • Common expenses A–F

    Details on common building and construction employees expenses for:

    Award transport payments (fares allowance)

    If you receive an allowance from your employer for transport expenses or car expenses and it is paid to you under an award, it is assessable income and must be included on your tax return.

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

    See also:

    Car expenses

    You can't claim a deduction for the normal trips between your home and work, even if you live a long way from your usual workplace or have to work outside normal business hours (for example, weekend or early morning shifts). These are private expenses.

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

    • The tools or equipment are essential for the performance of your employment duties.
    • The equipment is bulky, meaning that because of its size or weight it is awkward to transport and can only be transported conveniently by 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 is a matter of choice.

    You can 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 construction job to your second job as a TAFE teacher
    • to and from an alternate workplace for the same employer on the same day – for example, driving between separate work sites for the same employer.

    To claim a deduction you must keep records of your car use. You can use the cents per kilometre method or the logbook method to calculate your deduction.

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

    If you use the cents per kilometre method, you need to provide a calculation of your work-related kilometres. You must be able to show that the kilometres travelled were work-related.

    The Work-related car expenses calculator helps calculate the amount you can claim as a deduction for car expenses.

    If you own a motorcycle, or a vehicle with a carrying capacity of one tonne or more, or nine passengers or more you can deduct the actual expenses related to your work travel.

    Example: transporting bulky tools and equipment

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

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

    End of example

     

    Example: transporting bulky equipment

    Cheryl, an excavator operator, usually leaves her bulky tools and equipment in a secure area at the work site. Her employer requires her to go to a different site the next day, so she takes the tools and equipment home.

    The cost of Cheryl's travel home and to the work site the next day is deductible because it can be attributed to the transport of bulky equipment.

    End of example

     

    Example: storage is available

    Jocelyn works on a large project where secure storage is available for her tools. As Jocelyn chooses to transport her tools to and from work every day, instead of leaving them in the secure storage provided.

    Jocelyn can't claim a deduction for transporting her tools to and from work.

    End of example

     

    Example: tools and transport provided

    Paul's employer provides vans for employees. The vans are fully equipped with the materials and tools they need to carry out their duties. Paul travels by car to his employer's head office where he picks up the work van then drives to the job.

    Paul can't claim a deduction for the car expenses he incurs when he travels between his home and work.

    End of example

     

    Example: travelling between workplaces

    Jack and Bill are carpenters who construct roof trusses and cabinets. They consult with clients and work on their designs from an office space. They then travel to the client's home to construct and install these 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 home and the office or between home and a client's house. This travel is to and from their normal workplace. Therefore it's private a private expense.

    End of example

     

    Example: shifting workplaces

    Ramesh is a shop fitter and is required to travel to several worksites each day to provide quotes to clients and work on various jobs.

    Ramesh can claim a deduction for his car expenses between his home and work because he works at several worksites each day.

    End of example

     

    Example: unexpected travel to alternative workplace

    Ben, a bobcat operator, arrives at the work site and is directed by his employer to go to a work site in another suburb for the day to cover for another operator who's sick. Ben can claim a deduction for travel between his normal work site and the alternate site that isn't his regular workplace, and then home.

    End of example

     

    Example: car or vehicle other than a car

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

    2,402 kg − 1,040 kg = 1,362 kg

    Because the vehicle's payload, or carrying capacity, is greater than 1,000 kg (or one tonne) Loc's motor vehicle is considered to be a vehicle other than a car.

    As a result, Loc can't claim using the logbook or cents per kilometre methods. However, Loc may claim actual vehicle expenses to the extent that the vehicle is used for work purposes.

    End of example

    See also:

    Child care

    You can't claim a deduction for child care when you're working. It's a private expense.

    Clothing expenses (including footwear)

    You can claim a deduction for the cost you incur when you buy, hire, repair or replace clothing, uniforms and footwear you wear at work if it's:

    • protective
    • occupation specific and not a conventional, everyday piece of clothing
    • a compulsory uniform that identifies you as an employee of an organisation with a strictly enforced policy that makes it compulsory for you to wear the uniform while you're at work
    • a non-compulsory uniform and your employer has registered the design with AusIndustry.

    Clothing in a specific colour or brand isn't enough to classify clothing as a uniform. For example, a shirt with the corporate logo on it that you must wear when you work is a uniform, so you can claim a deduction for buying it.

    You can claim clothing and footwear that you wear to protect yourself from the risk of illness or injury posed by your income-earning activities or the environment in which you carry them out. To be considered protective, the items must provide a sufficient degree of protection against that risk – for example, protective steel-capped boots or overalls.

    You can't claim a deduction for the cost of buying plain clothing, such as jeans, drill shirts or running shoes worn at work, even if:

    • you only wear it to work
    • your employer tells you to wear it.

    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, they provide only limited protection from injury. The items are commonly worn as conventional clothing and aren't designed to protect the wearer or cope with rigorous working conditions.

    Richard can't claim a deduction for the cost of buying, repairing or cleaning these items because they're private in nature.

    End of example

     

    Example: protective clothing

    Rafael wears steel-capped boots and a helmet (hard hat) when working at the industrial park. These items are necessary for Rafael to wear while at work to protect his feet and head.

    The protective nature of these items means that Rafael can claim a deduction for their cost if he incurred the expense and wasn't reimbursed by his employer.

    End of example

    See also:

    Driver's licence

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

    See also:

    Fines

    You can't claim a deduction for any fines you get when you work. Fines include parking and speeding fines.

    First aid courses

    You can claim a deduction for the cost of first aid training courses if you, as a designated first aid person, are required to undertake first aid training 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 industry employee expenses, see:

      Last modified: 01 May 2020QC 24373