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  • Common expenses A–F

    Details on claiming common engineer expenses for:

    Award transport payments (fares allowance)

    If you receive an allowance from your employer for transport expenses or car expenses and it's paid to you under an award, it's 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 generally can’t claim the cost of trips between home and work, even if you live a long way from your usual workplace or work outside normal business hours (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 where you carry bulky tools or equipment for work. You can claim a deduction for the cost of these trips if all the following conditions are met:

    • The tools or equipment you carry 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 tools or equipment merely as a matter of choice. For example, if your employer provides the tools and equipment you require or they provide secure storage, your decision to transport items will be a matter of choice.

    You can claim 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 main job as a mechanical engineer 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 from your office to inspect a job site.

    You may be able to claim the cost for driving between workplaces and your home if you do itinerant work (or have shifting places of work). Travel must be a fundamental part of your work duties.

    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.

    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 and be able to show that those kilometres 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 only deduct the actual expenses related to your work travel.

    Example: no safe and secure storage

    Mike is a mechanical engineer responsible for constructing machines. He has to carry machinery and tools between his home and workplace each day to perform his duties.

    Mike's employer doesn't provide secure storage for him to store his tools and machinery at work. He can therefore claim a deduction for the expenses he incurs to transport his tools and machinery.

    End of example

     

    Example: from alternative workplace to home

    Hiroto works as a civil engineer for a large company in the city. He has to attend regular meetings at his employer's head office in the suburbs. He uses his own car to travel to the meetings. Hiroto travels directly home after the meetings because they finish late.

    Hiroto can claim the cost of travelling from his city office to the meeting at head office, and then to his home.

    End of example

     

    Example: between alternative workplace and work

    Jan makes site visits to view projects she's working on as a structural engineer. Sometimes, she travels from her home to view a site, and then continues on to her workplace.

    Jan can claim a deduction for her travel expenses from her home to the site and then onto her workplace.

    End of example

     

    Example: working partly from home

    Mohammed's employer has an office in the city, but is happy for Mohammed to work from home three days each week. On these days, Mohammed sometimes has to travel into the office for a meeting, before returning home to work.

    In this situation, the expense Mohammed incurs to travel between his home and work is a private expense that he can't claim.

    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, replace or clean clothing, uniforms and footwear you wear at work if it's:

    • protective clothing and footwear that provides a sufficient degree of protection against the risk of injury or illness posed by the activities you undertake to earn your income
    • 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, if your employer has registered the design with AusIndustry.

    You should check with your employer if you are unsure if a uniform has been registered with AusIndustry.

    You can claim clothing and footwear that you wear to protect yourself from the risk of injury or illness 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, gloves and protective boots.

    Clothing in a specific colour or brand isn't enough to classify it as a uniform. For example, a shirt with the corporate logo on it that your employer strictly requires you to wear when you work is a compulsory uniform. You can claim a deduction for buying and repairing it.

    You can't claim a deduction for the cost of buying or cleaning plain clothing worn at work, even if your employer tells you to wear it and you only wear them at work. You can't claim for:

    • heavy duty conventional clothing such as jeans, drill shirts, all brands of work wear shirts and plain black trousers
    • running shoes or casual shoes.

    These are private expenses.

    You can't claim a deduction if your employer buys, mends, cleans or reimburses you for your clothing.

    Example: conventional clothing

    Richard, an electrical engineer, works on a building site. He wears jeans with t-shirts or long sleeve shirts at work as they're 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 purchasing or cleaning these items because they're private in nature.

    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.

    Fines

    You can't claim a deduction for any fines you get when you work. Fines may include, parking fines 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 the training, or reimburses you.

    For more engineer expenses, see:

      Last modified: 30 Apr 2020QC 22571