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  • Common expenses T–W

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

    Tools and equipment

    You can claim a deduction for tools and equipment you use to perform your duties as a doctor, specialist or other medical professional.

    You can only claim a deduction for the work-related use of the item.

    If the tool or equipment cost you $300 or less, you can claim for the full amount in the year you buy it, if:

    • you use it mainly for work purposes
    • it's not part of a set that together cost more than $300.

    You can claim a deduction for the cost over the life of the item (that is, decline in value), if the tool or equipment:

    • cost more than $300
    • is part of a set that together cost more than $300.

    If you bought the tool or item of equipment part way through the year, you can only claim a deduction for the decline in value for the period of the income year that you own it.

    You can also claim a deduction for the cost of repairs to tools and equipment that you use for work purposes.

    You can’t claim a deduction for tools and equipment that your employer or a third-party supplies for use.

    Example: equipment for work-related use

    Adam is a psychologist in a rehabilitation centre. Adam's job requires him to complete his case reports at home.

    Adam carries his work laptop and patient documents between his office and his home to complete the case reports. He buys a briefcase with laptop compartment to carrying his laptop and documents for $275. Adam only uses the briefcase to transport work items.

    Adam can claim a deduction for the cost of the briefcase as his job requires him to transport the laptop and documents and the briefcase is suitable to carry all the items.

    As Adam only uses the briefcase for work purposes and it cost less than $300, he can claim a deduction for the whole cost of the briefcase in the year that he bought it.

    End of example

     

    Example: allowable deduction for decline in value

    Meghan buys a laptop for $1,000 that she solely uses for work purposes. As the asset costs more than $300, she can only claim a deduction for its decline in value over the effective life of the asset.

    She has also kept a four-week representative diary to demonstrate the 100% work-related use and a receipt for the purchase of the laptop.

    End of example

    See also:

    Travel expenses

    You can claim a deduction for expenses you incur when your work requires you to both:

    • travel for work
    • sleep away from your home overnight in the course of performing your employment duties.

    Expenses you can claim include your accommodation, meals and expenses which are incidental to the travel (incidentals). For example, when you travel interstate to attend a work-related conference, seminar or training course.

    You can't claim a deduction for travel expenses where you don’t incur any expenses, because:

    • you slept in accommodation your employer provides
    • you eat meals your employer provides
    • your employer or a third party reimburses you for any costs you incur.

    Receiving an allowance from your employer doesn’t automatically mean you can claim a deduction. In all cases, you must be able to show:

    • you were away overnight
    • you have spent the money
    • the travel directly relates to earning your employment income
    • how you worked out your claim.

    If you receive a travel allowance you must include it as assessable income in your tax return unless all of the following apply:

    • the travel allowance is not shown on your income statement or payment summary
    • the travel allowance doesn't exceed the Commissioner's reasonable amount
    • you spent the whole allowance on deductible accommodation, meal and incidental expenses (if applicable).

    The Commissioner's reasonable amount is set each year. The amount is used to determine whether an exception from keeping written evidence applies for the following expenses which are covered by a travel allowance for:

    • accommodation
    • meal
    • incidentals.

    You don't need to keep written evidence such as receipts if both of the following apply:

    • you received a travel allowance from your employer for the expenses
    • your deduction is less than the Commissioner’s reasonable amount.

    If you claim a deduction for more than the Commissioner’s reasonable amount you need to keep receipts for all expenses, not just for the amount over the Commissioner’s reasonable amount.

    Even if you are not required to keep written evidence such as receipts, you must be able to explain your claim and show you spent the amounts. For example, show in your work diary, that you received and correctly declared your travel allowance and bank statements.

    Example: dual purpose

    Megan is a general practitioner based in the outer suburbs of Sydney. The practice she works in provides support to a rural practice in Menindee allowing the practitioner based in this location time off. Her employer requires each practitioner in the practice to take this position at some time during their employment.

    Megan flies to Menindee for a 14-day locum position to fill this role. Her employer pays her a travel allowance.

    Megan can claim a deduction for the expenses she incurs such as airfares, accommodation and meals.

    Megan stays over for an extra five days to do some sightseeing in the NSW outback on each trip. As the sightseeing isn't work-related, Megan can only claim the work-related portion of the airfares (14 days) and the accommodation and meals for the 14 days she attends work at the local practice.

    Megan can't claim the cost of accommodation and meals for the five days of private travel.

    End of example

     

    Example: work-travel with private component

    Jihoon’s employer requires that he travel interstate to meet with a client. While he is there his employer allows Jihoon to extend his stay to explore the city and tourist attractions.

    Jihoon has kept the receipts for all the expenses he incurs during the trip.

    Upon his return, Jihoon's employer reimburses him for the work-related travel costs. This includes his flights, accommodation, meal and any incidental expenses.

    Jihoon can't claim a deduction as he has been reimbursed for the cost of the work-related travel by his employer. Jihoon's personal expenses are also not deductible as they are private in nature.

    End of example

    See also:

    • TD 2020/5 Income tax: what are the reasonable travel and overtime meal allowance expense amounts for the 2020-21 income year?
    • Travel expenses

    Watches and timepieces

    You can't claim a deduction for the cost you incur to buy or maintain watches or timepieces, even if they are required as part of your job. This is a private expense.

    However, you can claim a deduction if your watch has special characteristics that you use for a work-related purpose. For example, a nurse's fob watch.

    If the watch cost more than $300, you can claim a deduction for its decline in value over the effective life.

    You can claim a deduction for the cost of repairs, batteries and watchbands for special watches. You only claim a deduction for the amount you use the item at work if you also wear it for private purposes.

    Similar to ordinary watches, a smart watch (that connects to a phone or other device to provide notifications, apps and GPS) is a private expense and not deductible under ordinary circumstances.

    However, you may be able to claim a deduction for the work-related use of a smart watch. You can claim a deduction where you require some of the smart watch's functions as an essential part of your employment activities. To show the work-related use of the watch, you will need to keep a diary or similar record of your use of the watch for a representative period.

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

    Find out about medical professionals':

      Last modified: 10 Feb 2021QC 56091