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  • Common expenses G–O

    Details on claiming common engineer expenses for:

    Glasses, contact lenses and anti-glare glasses

    You can't claim a deduction for prescription glasses or contact lenses, even if you need to wear them while working as these are private expenses.

    You can claim a deduction for the cost of protective glasses if you wear them to reduce the real and likely risk of illness or injury while working as an engineer. Protective glasses include anti-glare or photochromatic glasses, sunglasses, safety glasses or goggles.

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

    See also:

    Home office expenses

    You may be able to claim a deduction for expenses you incur as an employee working from home. These can be additional running expenses such as electricity, the decline in value of equipment or furniture, phone and internet expenses.

    You can only claim a deduction for the additional running costs you incur as a result of working from home. For example, if you work in your lounge room when others are also present, you can't claim the cost of lighting and heating or cooling. This is because there is no additional cost for those expenses as a result of working from home.

    There are some expenses you can't claim a deduction for as an employee. Employees who work at home can't claim costs:

    • for coffee, tea, milk and other general household items your employer may provide you at work
    • for your children and their education including
      • setting them up for online learning
      • teaching them at home
      • buying equipment such as iPads and desks
    • your employer pays for or reimburses you for the expense
    • for the decline in value of items provided by your employer – for example, a laptop or a phone.

    There are several methods you can use to work out your home office expenses. The methods you can use depend on your circumstances. You must meet the record keeping requirements and working criteria to use each method.

    You generally can’t claim occupancy expenses (rent, rates, mortgage interest and house insurance premiums), unless your home is your 'place of business'. This occurs where your home office is both:

    • your principal place of work because no other work location is provided by your employer
    • exclusively or almost exclusively used for work purposes.

    You can’t claim a deduction if your employer pays for your home office to be set up or they reimburse you for the expenses.

    The Home office expenses calculator helps you work out the amount you can claim as a deduction for home office expenses.

    For more detailed information and record keeping requirements for each method, see:

    Example: working from home

    Calvin is an employee civil engineer by ABC Pty Ltd, a company based in the Melbourne CBD. Calvin lives in a rented property in Geelong and wants to limit his need to commute to the office in the Melbourne CBD. His employer gives him permission to work mostly from home, but he needs to come into the office for team meetings and on other days as required.

    Calvin sets up his spare room as his work office and he doesn't use it for any other purpose. Calvin can claim additional running expenses in respect of his home office. He can't claim any portion of his rent as it is a cost of maintaining a place to live and domestic in nature (that is, an occupancy expense).

    End of example

    See also:

    • PS LA 2001/6 Verification approaches for home office and electronic device expenses
    • TR 93/30 Income tax: deductions for home office expenses
    • PCG 2020/3 Claiming deductions for additional running expenses incurred whilst working from home due to COVID-19

    Insurance of tools and equipment

    You can claim a deduction for the cost to insure your tools and equipment to the extent that you use them for work-related purposes.

    Laundry and maintenance

    You can claim a deduction for the costs you incur to wash, dry and iron clothing you wear at work if it's:

    • protective (for example, a hi-vis jacket)
    • occupation specific and not a conventional, everyday piece of clothing such as jeans or general business attire
    • a uniform either non-compulsory and registered with AusIndustry or compulsory.

    This also includes laundromat and dry-cleaning expenses.

    We consider that a reasonable basis for working out your laundry claim is:

    • $1 per load if it only contains clothing you wear at work from one of categories above.
    • 50c per load if you mix personal items of clothing with work clothing from one of the categories above.

    You can claim the actual costs you incurred for repairing and dry-cleaning expenses.

    If your laundry claim (excluding dry-cleaning expenses) is $150 or less, you don't need to keep records, but you will still need to calculate and be able to show how you worked out your claim. This isn't an automatic deduction.

    Example: laundry expenses uniform and conventional clothing

    Joselyn is an electrical engineer and is required to wear shirts embroidered with her employer's logo whilst at work. Her employer is also requires her to wear black drill pants.

    Joselyn can claim a deduction for the laundering of her work shirts as the logo makes them unique and distinctive. However, she can't claim a deduction for the cost to launder her drill pants even though she only wears them to work. They are conventional in nature and don’t have a logo or other feature that is unique and distinctive.

    Joselyn washes and dries her embroidered shirts and drill pants in a separate load of washing twice a week. She can only claim $0.50 cents per load as her embroidered shirts are washed with her drill pants (conventional clothing).

    Jocelyn worked for 40 weeks of the financial year and calculates her laundry claim as follows:

    Number of claimable laundry loads per week × number of weeks = total number of claimable laundry loads

    2 × 40 = 80

    Total number of claimable laundry loads × reasonable cost per load = total claim amount

    80 × $0.50 = $40

    As her total claim for laundry expenses is under $150 ($40) Joselyn doesn't have to provide written evidence of her laundry expenses. Although Joselyn doesn't require evidence to prove her claim for laundry. However, if asked, she will still be required to explain how she calculated her claim.

    End of example

    See also:

    Licences, permits and cards

    You can't claim the cost of getting your initial licence, regulatory permit, cars or certificates in order to get a job. For example, a forklift licence.

    You can claim a deduction for the additional costs your incur to get or renew these expenses in order to continue to perform your work duties. For example, if you need to have a forklift licence to get your job, you can’t claim the initial cost of obtaining it, however you can claim the cost of renewing it during the period you are working.

    Meal and snack expenses

    You can't claim for the cost of food, drink or snacks you consume during your normal working hours, even if you receive a meal allowance. These are private expenses.

    See also:

    Newspapers and other news services, magazines and professional publications

    The cost of newspapers, news services and magazines are generally private expenses and not deductible.

    You can claim a deduction for the cost of buying or subscribing to a professional publication, newspaper, news service or magazine if you can show:

    • a direct connection between your specific work duties and the content
    • the content is specific to your employment and is not general in nature.

    If you use the publication for work and private purposes, you can only claim the portion related to your work-related use.

    Overtime meal expenses

    You can claim a deduction for the cost of a meal you buy and eat when you work overtime, if all of the following apply:

    • you receive an overtime meal allowance under an industrial law, award or agreement
    • the allowance is on your income statement as a separate allowance
    • you include the allowance in your tax return as income.

    You can't claim a deduction if the allowance is part of your salary and wages and not included as a separate allowance on your income statement.

    You generally need to get and keep written evidence, such as receipts, when you claim a deduction. However, each year we set an amount you can claim for overtime meal expenses without receipts. This is called the 'reasonable amount'. If you receive an overtime meal allowance, are claiming a deduction and spent:

    • up to the reasonable amount, you don't have to get and keep receipts
    • more than the reasonable amount, you must get and keep receipts for your expenses.

    In all cases, you need to be able to show:

    • you spent the money
    • how you worked out your claim.

    Example: overtime meal expenses

    Ash, an aeronautical engineer, completes his eight-hour shift and is asked to work for an additional three hours. He is given a meal break and paid an overtime meal allowance of $25 under his enterprise bargaining agreement. Ash buys and eats a meal costing him $14 during his overtime.

    At the end of the income year his income statement showed he received $25 for his overtime meal allowance. In his tax return, Ash correctly declares the $25 allowance and claims a deduction of $14. This is the amount he had actually spent on his overtime meal.

    The amount Ash is claiming as a deduction is less than the commissioner's reasonable amount so Ash doesn't have to keep written evidence. However he will need to be able to show how he works out his deduction and that he spent the money.

    End of example

    See also:

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

    For more engineer expenses, see:

      Last modified: 10 Feb 2021QC 22571