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  • Common expenses P–S

    Details on common building and construction employees' expenses for:

    Parking fees and tolls

    You can't claim a deduction for parking at or near your regular place of work. You also can't claim a deduction for tolls you incur for trips between your home and work. These are private expenses.

    You can claim a deduction for parking fees and tolls you incur on work-related trips.

    Example: parking fees

    Sasha is a project manager and drives her own car to work each day and parks in the secure parking centre next to the construction site where she works.

    Once a month Sasha drives her car to a training facility to complete mandatory training, in her role as a project manager. She pays to park at the training facility and her employer doesn't reimburse her.

    Sasha can't claim the cost she incurs to park at her regular place of work. However, she can claim her parking at the training facility as she incurs the expense on a work-related trip.

    End of example

    Phone, data and internet expenses

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

    If your phone, data and internet use for work is incidental and you're not claiming more than $50 in total, you don't 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 phone 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 you're travelling for work. This is because these are personal phone calls.

    Example: working out phone expenses

    Daniel is a construction manager and he uses his personal mobile phone for work purposes (mostly outgoing calls) when onsite. He is on a set mobile plan of $49 a month and rarely exceeds the plan cap.

    He receives an itemised bill from his phone provider each month that includes details of his individual phone calls.

    At least once a year, Daniel prints out his monthly bill and highlights his work-related calls. He also makes notes on the itemised bill about who he has called – for example, his manager and clients.

    Out of the 300 phone calls he made in a 4 week period, Daniel works out 30 (10%) of the calls are for work and applies that percentage to his cap amount of $49 a month. He works out his claim for phone calls for work purposes as follows:

    Total work phone calls ÷ total number of phone calls = work use percentage for phone calls:

    30 ÷ 300 = 10%

    Daniel can claim 10% of the total bill of $49 for each month for work purposes:

    $49 × 10% = $4.90

    Since Daniel was only at work for 46 weeks of the year (10.6 months), he works out his work-related mobile phone expense deduction as follows:

    10.6 months × $4.90 = $51.94

    End of example


    Example: work and private use

    Sylvette is a carpenter who uses her computer and personal internet account at home to access her work emails and manage her online ordering of materials for work. Sylvette uses her computer and internet for both work and private purposes.

    Sylvette keeps a diary for a four-week period, recording the times she used the internet for work and private purposes. Sylvette's internet use diary showed 30% of her internet time was for work-related activities and 70% was for private use. As her internet service provider charge for the year was $1,200 she can claim:

    $1,200 × 30% = $360 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

    Protective items

    You can claim a deduction for the cost of protective items if you wear them to protect you from the real or likely risk of injury or illness in your work environment or while performing your work duties.

    To be considered protective, the equipment must provide a sufficient degree of protection against the risks of illness or injury you are exposed to in carrying out your work duties. Protective items can include safety glasses, helmets and breathing masks. For example, a construction worker can claim a deduction for the cost of steel-capped boots.

    You can also claim the costs you incur to repair, replace or clean protective items.

    You can't claim a deduction if your employer:

    • supplies the protective items
    • reimburses you for the cost you incur to buy the protective items.

    Example: protective items provided by employer

    Winnie works as a concreter on a construction site. She is required to wear a helmet, safety glasses, breathing mask and safety visor while on site. If she doesn't wear them she is at risk of injury or illness.

    There is a connection between the items she uses and the protection they provide her when she is working.

    Winnie's employer provides the protective equipment and if she was to buy her own her employer would reimburse her for these costs.

    Winnie can't claim a deduction for the helmet, safety glasses, breathing mask and safety visor as she doesn't incur any costs.

    End of example

    Repairs to tools and equipment

    You can claim a deduction for repairs to tools and equipment you use for work. If you also use them for private purposes, you can only claim an amount for your work-related use.

    Self-education and study expenses

    You can claim a deduction for self-education and study expenses if it directly relates to your employment 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 claim a deduction for transport expenses for:

    • travel between your home and the place of education and then back home
    • the first leg of the trip
      • when you travel from home to the place of education and then on to work
      • when you travel from work to a place of education and then home
    • travel between work and the place of education and then back to work.

    You can't claim a deduction for repayments you make on your study or training support loan. 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 Loans (SSL).

    While course fees may be deductible, fees incurred 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 work from home running expenses, but not occupancy expenses.

    You generally can't claim a deduction for the first $250 of expenses for self-education.

    Example: self-education expenses

    Francesco is an apprentice, who as part of his apprenticeship travels to a technical college two consecutive days each fortnight. As the technical college is a long distance away, Francesco stays overnight and incurs costs for accommodation, meals and incidentals.

    Francesco can claim a deduction for the cost of travel to and from his place of education, overnight accommodation, meals and incidentals as the course directly relates to his current role.

    End of example


    Example: reducing your self-education claim

    Danh incurs self-education expenses totalling $1,650 in connection with his apprenticeship course at a technical college.

    Self-education expenses are broken into 5 categories. Some of Danh’s self-education expenses fall under into a category that requires him to reduce his claim by $250.

    Danh calculates his claim for self-education expenses as follows:

    Deductible self-education expenses − reduction amount = total claim amount

    $1,650 − $250 = $1,400

    Danh can claim a deduction of $1,400 for his self-education expenses.

    End of example

    Seminars, conferences and training courses

    You can claim a deduction for the cost of seminars, conferences and training courses that relate to your work as a building and construction employee.

    The costs you can claim include 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 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.


    You can claim a deduction for the cost of logbooks, diaries, pens and notepads that you buy and use for work-related purposes.

    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 you 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.

    Example: claiming sunhat and sunscreen

    Harold works as a construction supervisor overseeing a team of construction workers on a large-scale residential development. He is required to be outside in the yard directing staff and ensuring everything is running smoothly. He wears a sunhat and sunscreen for protection against the sun while in the yard.

    The sunscreen is provided to all staff by Harold's employer. However, he buys a broad brim sunhat that provides him protection from the sun whilst working.

    Harold can claim a deduction for the sunhat. He can't claim a deduction for the sunscreen provided by his employer, as he didn't incur an expense.

    End of example

    For more building and construction employee expenses, see:

      Last modified: 16 May 2022QC 24373