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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 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 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).

    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:

    • the tools or equipment you carry are essential for the performance of your employment duties
    • the tools are bulky, meaning they are of such a large size or weight that transportation by car or private vehicle is the only realistic option
    • 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 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.

    You must keep records of your car use. You can use 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 records 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 your actual expenses.

    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, so he can claim a deduction for the expenses he incurs to transport his tools and machinery.

    End of example

     

    Example: from alternative workplace to home

    Richard 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. Richard goes directly home after the meetings because they finish late.

    Richard 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 that you pay for 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
    • occupation specific (and not a conventional, everyday piece of clothing)
    • a unique, distinctive compulsory uniform which you are required to wear under an enforceable policy or agreement
    • a non-compulsory uniform you wear for work and the uniform is registered with AusIndustry on the Register of Approved Occupational Clothing

    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, sunglasses, gloves and protective boots.

    You can’t claim the cost of buying or cleaning conventional clothing or plain uniforms worn at work – for example, hi-vis workwear or black pants, even if you only wear it to work and your employer tells you to wear it. Clothing in a specific colour or brand isn't enough to classify clothing as a uniform.

    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

     

    Example: protective clothing

    Rafael wears steel-capped boots and a hard hat when working at the industrial park. These items aren't of a private or domestic nature and are necessary for Rafael to wear while at work.

    The protective nature of these items means that Rafael can claim a deduction for their cost.

    End of example

    See also:

    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: 16 Oct 2019QC 22571