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  • Common expenses T-W

    Details on common building and construction employees expenses for

    Technical or professional publications

    You can claim a deduction for the cost of journals, periodicals and magazines that have content sufficiently connected to your employment in the building and construction industry.

    Tools and equipment

    You can claim a deduction for tools and equipment if you use them to perform your duties in the building and construction industry.

    If a tool or item of equipment cost you $300 or less, and you use it for work only, you can claim a deduction for the whole cost in the year you purchased it. Otherwise, you can claim a deduction for the cost over the life of the item (that is; depreciation).

    If the item is part of a set that together cost more than $300, you can claim a deduction for the set over the life of the asset.

    If you also use the tool or item of equipment for private purposes, you can only claim the work-related portion.

    If you bought the tool or item of equipment part way through the year, you can only claim a deduction for the portion of the year that you owned it.

    You can also claim a deduction for the cost of repairs to tools and equipment.

    You can't claim a deduction for tools and equipment that are supplied by your employer or another person.

    Example: tool allowance

    If you received a tool allowance of $500, and your tool expenses were $300, you would:

    • include the whole amount of the allowance as income on your tax return
    • claim a deduction of $300 for the expense incurred.
    End of example

     

    Example: depreciating (no immediate deduction)

    Anna needed a new set of 16 spanners for work. She could not afford the $352 cost, so she bought them all individually over 2019.

    Although they only cost $22 each, Anna can't claim an immediate deduction for the spanners because they are part of a set she bought in the 2019 income year that cost more than $300. Anna can claim a deduction for the decline in value of the set, which in the end cost $352.

    If in a following year, Anna breaks one of the spanners and has to buy a replacement, she'll be able to claim an immediate deduction for the replacement because it won’t be part of a set she bought in that year that cost more than $300.

    End of example

     

    Example: effective life

    Tal purchased a tool set on 5 September for $1,500 and only uses them for work purposes.

    He visits our website and looks up our ruling on the effective life of depreciating assets. The ruling says the effective life of loose tools is five years.

    He works out the deduction for the decline in value of his tool set using the prime cost method in this way:

    • (Asset cost ×(days held ÷ 365) × (work use percentage ÷ 5)

    He has held the tools for 300 days and his work use percentage is 100%.

    $1,500 × (300÷ 365) × (100% ÷ 5) = $246

    Tal can therefore claim $246 for the decline in value of his tool set in the first year. Using the same method, he will also be able to claim $300 per year in the following four years and $54 in the final (sixth) year.

    End of example

    See also:

    Travel expenses

    You can claim a deduction for the costs you incur on accommodation, meals and incidentals when you travel for work and sleep away from your home overnight.

    You can't claim a deduction for accommodation where you have not incurred any accommodation expenses, because you:

    • sleep in accommodation provided by your employer
    • are reimbursed for any costs by your employer.

    If you spent and are claiming a deduction up to the reasonable amount for meals we have set (on a meal by meal basis), you don't have to get and keep receipts.

    Each year, we set a reasonable amount for travel expenses. Generally, you're required to get and keep written evidence, such as receipts, when you claim a deduction for travel expenses. However, if you spent and are claiming:

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

    Receiving an allowance from your employer doesn't automatically entitle you to a deduction. In all cases, you need to be able to show:

    • you were away overnight
    • you spent the money
    • the travel was directly related to earning your employment income
    • how you calculated your claim.

    Example: living away from home allowance

    Joe is a project manager. He lives in the city with his family and applied for a job to work on a large construction project near a country town for 12 months. He is paid a living-away-from-home allowance by the construction company to meet his accommodation and meal costs in the country town.

    The allowance isn't income and shouldn't be shown on Joe's payment summary. He can't claim a deduction for his accommodation and meal costs while living away for work.

    End of example

     

    Example: reasonable allowance amount

    Antoni travels from Adelaide to Mt Gambier for a job. Away from home for five nights, his employer pays him a travel allowance of $110 per night for accommodation, meals and incidentals. The allowance isn't shown on his payment summary.

    The travel allowance amount paid to Antoni is less than the reasonable allowance amount and he spends all of the travel allowance on his travel expenses.

    Antoni chooses not to include his allowance on his tax return because:

    • it's less than the reasonable allowance amount
    • it isn't shown on his payment summary
    • he spends it all to cover his travel expenses.

    This means Antoni can't claim a deduction for his expenses on his tax return.

    End of example

     

    Example: claim for less than reasonable allowance amount

    Derek works for a national company. His employer provides him with an allowance that covers the costs of his accommodation when he travels interstate for work. Derek doesn't receive an allowance for meals or incidental expenses.

    The amount Derek claims as a deduction for the accommodation costs he pays is less than the reasonable allowance amount. This means he can only claim the amount he spent on accommodation. He doesn't have to keep records of his accommodation expenses. However, he does have to keep records and other written evidence to support any deductions he claims for his meals and incidental expenses.

    End of example

    See also:

    Union and professional association fees

    You can claim a deduction for union and professional association fees you pay. If the amount you paid is shown on your payment summary or income statement, you can use it to prove your claim.

    See also:

    Working from home

    You can claim a deduction for the additional running expenses of an office or a study at home that you use to earn your income working in the building and construction industry.

    Running expenses include:

    • decline in value of home office equipment
    • the cost of repairs to your home office furniture and fittings
    • heating, cooling, lighting and cleaning expenses.

    You can’t claim occupancy expenses, such as rent, rates, mortgage interest and house insurance premiums. In limited circumstances, you may be able to claim a deduction if your home office is considered to be a 'place of business'. If your only income is paid to you as an employee, you aren't considered to be carrying on a business.

    Diary records noting the time the home office was used for work are acceptable evidence of a connection between the use of a home office and your work. You'll need to keep diary records during a representative four-week period.

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

    See also:

    For more building and construction industry employee expenses, see:

    Find out more about building and construction industry employees':

      Last modified: 10 Apr 2019QC 24373