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  • Common expenses A–F

    Details on claiming common doctor, specialist or other medical professional expenses for:

    AMA or other medical professional association membership fees

    You can claim a deduction for the cost of buying a membership with the Australian Medical Association (AMA) or other medical professional associations.

    If the amount you pay is on your income statement or payment summary, you can use it to prove your claim.

    See also:

    Annual practising certificate fees

    You can claim a deduction for the cost of renewing your annual practising certificate if you need it to work in your current occupation or industry.

    You can't claim the initial cost of getting your practicing certificate as a deduction. This is because you incur the expense to enable you to start your employment, not while earning your income.

    Example: ongoing expense

    Brenden needs an annual practicing certificate to work as a doctor. He can claim a deduction for the cost of renewing his practising certificate each year as he incurs the expense in earning his employment income.

    End of example

    Books, journals and professional library

    You can claim a deduction for the total cost of a publication you buy (including technical journals and reference books) if:

    • it cost less than $300
    • you use the publication mainly for work-related purposes, that is more than half of the time for work purposes
    • the publication isn't part of a set you start to hold in that income year where the total set costs more than $300
    • the item isn't one of a number of identical or substantially identical items that together cost more than $300.

    Items are generally considered to be part of a set if all of the following factors are met. They are:

    • interdependent
    • marketed as a set, or
    • designed and intended for use together.

    If you subscribe and pay for a publication in advance for more than one year, you must divide the cost equally over the whole subscription period.

    You can claim the decline in value of your professional library over its effective life, if:

    • each individual item cost more than $300
    • the item is part of a set or a number of items that are identical or substantially identical which cost more than $300.

    Example: claiming decline in value of an item that cost more than $300

    Katie is a general practitioner. She buys a medical book costing $350 to add to her professional library.

    Katie can’t claim a deduction for the full cost of the book. This is because the total cost to be added to her professional library is more than $300. Instead, she must claim the decline in value of the book over the effective life of her professional library.

    End of example

     

    Example: claiming decline in value of a set

    Laura is an employee obstetrician. During the income year she buys a series of six obstetrics books. Each book cost $65. The books are marketed as a set and are designed to be used together.

    Laura can't claim an outright deduction for the full purchase price of any of these books because:

    • each book forms part of a set, that she buys in the income year
    • the total cost of the set was more than $300.

    Instead, she must claim the decline in value on the books over the effective life of her professional library.

    End of example

    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 where you had 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 places of employment 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 a general practitioner directly to your second job as a university lecturer
    • to and from an alternate workplace for the same employer on the same day – for example, travelling between your consulting rooms and a hospital to undertake surgeries
    • from home directly to an alternate workplace – for example, travelling from home to a hospital to consult with your post-operative patients that isn't your regular work location.

    If you have access to the car under a salary sacrifice arrangement or a novated lease, it is usually your employer who is leasing the vehicle from the financing company and making it available for your use. As you do not own or lease the car, you can't claim any deductions for using the car, but can claim additional expenses, like parking and tolls associated with your work use of the car.

    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 written 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’. The Work-related car expenses calculator can 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 receipts for all your expenses and records to show your work-related use of the vehicle. The easiest way to do this is to keep a logbook or documents that provide similar details to a logbook.

    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: choosing to transport bulky equipment

    Stephen is an employee general practitioner. He chooses to take his patient's medical records home to review. He can’t claim the costs for transporting the records in his car between the medical practice and his home as the records are not considered so bulky that they can only be transported in a car. It is his choice to take them home. Stephen's travel is private travel between his regular place of employment and his home.

    End of example

     

    Example: travelling to work outside of regular hours

    Armando is an employee general practitioner at a late-night medical centre. He typically works the day roster from 7:00am to 2:00pm. Armando finishes work and returns home at the end of the day. At 6.00pm, he receives a call and is asked to return to the practice to backfill a colleague who has called in sick. Even though Armando is travelling to work outside his regular hours he can’t claim a deduction as it's still considered private travel between home and his regular workplace.

    End of example

     

    Example: travelling to and from an alternative workplace

    Fadia is an employee cardiothoracic surgeon. She travels from her consulting rooms, which is her regular workplace, to the hospital where she performs surgeries.

    Fadia can claim a deduction for travel directly between the consulting rooms as she travels from her regular workplace to an alternate workplace. She can't claim a deduction for travel between home and her regular workplace.

    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, business attire worn by a doctor, specialist and medical professional.

    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, 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: claiming clothing expenses

    Daniel is an occupational therapist and wears professional business attire to work. These items are conventional clothing and Daniel can't claim the cost of buying, hiring, repairing or replacing the clothing.

    End of example

     

    Example: compulsory uniform with logo

    Mike's employer requires him to buy and wear shirts with his employer's company logo embroidered on it. As part of his uniform, he also has to wear black pants and black non-slip shoes.

    Mike can claim the cost of buying, hiring, repairing or replacing the shirts as they are distinctive items with the employer's logo. Mike's employer requires him to wear it by a workplace agreement or policy, that they strictly and consistently enforce.

    Mike can also claim a deduction for the cost of his non-slip shoes as he requires them for his safety and protection from slipping over while working.

    However, Mike can't claim the cost of buying or cleaning his black pants because it is a private expense as the items are conventional clothing.

    End of example

    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.

    Entertainment and social functions

    You can't claim a deduction for the cost of any entertainment, fundraising or social functions. This applies even if they are compulsory, non-compulsory or you discuss work matters at the event. Entertainment and social functions include the cost of:

    • business breakfasts, lunches or dinners
    • attendance at sporting events
    • gala or social nights
    • concerts or dances
    • cocktail parties
    • other similar types of functions or events.

    These are private expenses because these events don't have a direct connection to your work duties.

    You also can’t claim the cost of travelling to and from functions.

    Example: entertainment costs

    Rachael buys a ticket to attend a fundraising gala that cost $250. The ticket includes entry, a three-course sit-down dinner and entertainment. Rachael considers her attendance at the event as a networking opportunity.

    Rachael can't claim a deduction for the cost of attending the event, even though she is networking as it is a private expense because there is no direct connection to her work duties.

    End of example

     

    Example: entertainment costs

    Benjamin pays to attend a monthly breakfast organised by a Medical Association. At these breakfasts he networks with industry colleagues and shares information that relates to the health sector.

    Benjamin can’t claim a deduction for the cost of attending, even though his discussions relate to his work as it is a private expense because there is no direct connection to his work duties.

    End of example

    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.

    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 doctor, specialist or other medical professionals' expenses, see:

      Last modified: 10 Feb 2021QC 56091