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  • Common expenses P–S

    Details on claiming common engineer expenses for:

    Parking fees and tolls

    You can claim a deduction for parking fees and tolls on work-related trips between two separate places of work or to an alternate workplace on the same day.

    You may not have to get and keep written evidence for these expenses if they're small or hard to get, for example, if you pay cash in a roadside parking meter.

    You can't claim a deduction for parking at or near a regular place of employment. This is a private expense.

    See also:

    Phone and internet expenses

    You can claim a deduction for the phone and internet costs associated with the work-related use of your own phone or electronic devices.

    You need to keep records to show a detailed pattern for your work use if you claim more than $50 on phone and internet expenses.

    You can’t claim a deduction if your employer provides you with a phone for work and pays for the usage, or if your employer reimburses you for the costs.

    You can't claim a deduction for any phone calls to family and friends, even while you're travelling for work. This is because they aren't work-related calls.

    Example: calculating phone expenses

    George uses his mobile phone for work purposes (mostly outgoing calls). He's on a set plan of $49 each month and rarely exceeds the cap.

    He receives an itemised account from his phone provider monthly, which includes details of the individual calls he has made. George prints his phone accounts and highlights his work-related calls. He also notes on the account about who he has called.

    Of the 300 calls made in a four-week period, George works out that 30 (10%) of his individual call expenses are for work. He applies that percentage to his cap amount of $49 a month.

    George worked for 46 weeks (10.6 months) of that year, so he calculates his work-related mobile phone expense deduction as follows:

    Total work calls ÷ Total number of calls = Work use percentage for calls

    (30 ÷ 300 = 10%)

    George can claim 10% of the total bill of $49 for each month for work purposes

    ($49 × 0.10 = $4.90)

    George's total expense for work-related calls is:

    10.6 months × $4.90 = $51.94

    End of example


    Example: work and private use

    Sylvette uses her computer and personal internet account at home to access her work emails and manage her appointments. Sylvette uses her computer and the internet for work and private purposes.

    Sylvette's internet use diary showed 20% of her internet time was for work-related activities and 60% was for private use. As her internet service provider charge for the year was $1,200 she can claim:

    $1,200 × 0.20 = $240 as work-related internet use.

    End of example

    See also:

    Protective items

    You can claim a deduction for the cost of protective items such as gloves, safety glasses, goggles and breathing masks.

    To be considered protective, the item must provide a sufficient degree of protection against the risks of illness or injury you are exposed to in carrying out your work duties.

    You can't claim a deduction if the protective item is supplied by your employer or another person. You also can't claim a deduction if you are reimbursed for the cost you incur to buy the protective item.

    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

    Repairs to tools and equipment

    You can claim a deduction for repairs to tools and equipment you use for work. If you also use them for private purposes, you can only claim the work-related portion.

    Self-education and study expenses

    You can claim a deduction for self-education and study expenses if it's directly related to your current employment as an engineer and it:

    • maintains or improves the skills and knowledge you need for your current duties
    • results in or is likely to result in an increase in your income from your current employment – for example, training in a new product for bridge development.

    You can't claim a deduction if the self-education or study course:

    • doesn't have a connection with your current employment
    • only relates in a general way to your current employment or profession
    • enables you to get employment or change employment.

    For example, you can’t claim your Degree in Mechanical Engineering if you are working as an engineering consultant.

    Self-education expenses include fees, travel expenses (for example, attending a lecture interstate), transport costs, books and equipment. You usually have to reduce your self-education expenses by $250 – that is, the first $250 of expenses for self-education aren't deductible.

    Example: self-education related to income-earning activities

    Doug is studying engineering while doing administrative work for a mining company. He is offered a trainee engineering position with the mining company on an understanding that he will continue his studies. Doug can't claim his study expenses while employed as an administrator, but he can claim his study expenses while employed as a trainee engineer.

    End of example


    Example: no sufficient connection with current role

    Dean is a qualified draftsperson employed in an engineering firm. He is studying a degree in mechanical engineering to further his career.

    Dean can't claim a deduction for the course and associated expenses as the course doesn't directly relate to his current employment activities as a draftsperson.

    End of example


    Example: maintains or improves specific skill or knowledge

    Ashran holds a Bachelor of Chemical Engineering and is employed in a technology firm. She decides to study her Masters to extend her field of specialisation.

    Ashran can claim a deduction for the course and associated expenses as the course enables her to maintain or improve the skills and knowledge specific to her current income-producing activities.

    End of example

    See also:

    Self-education and study and training support loans

    You can't claim the repayment of loans you receive to help pay for your self-education or study expenses. This includes:

    • Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) loans
    • VET Student Loans (VSL)
    • the Student Financial Supplement Scheme (SFSS)
    • Student Start-up Loans (SSL)
    • the Trade Support Loan (TSL) Program.

    You may be able to claim a deduction for course or tuition fees where the self-education expenses are directly related to your current employment as an engineer.

    See also:

    Seminars, conferences and training courses

    You can claim for the cost of seminars, conferences and training courses that relate to your work as an engineer.

    Example: deductible seminar

    Timothy is employed as an environmental engineer. In order to maintain his continued professional development and professional accreditation he attends a Landfill Engineering and Environmental Management seminar. Timothy pays the registration fee to attend and isn't reimbursed by his employer.

    Timothy can claim a deduction for the registration fee. He takes a photo of the registration form, receipt of payment and records the expense in the myDeductions tool in the ATO app.

    End of example


    Example: conference expenses reimbursed

    Jenny is employed as a robotics engineer with an automotive manufacturer. She attends the annual International Conference on Mechatronics and Robotics Engineering to ensure she is up to date on the latest innovations in her field.

    Jenny’s employer pays for her flights, accommodation and registration to attend the three day conference. All meals are provided at the conference.

    Jenny can't claim a deduction for these expenses as she didn't incur any of the expenses.

    End of example

    Sunglasses, sunhats and sunscreen

    You can claim a deduction for the cost of sunglasses if you wear them to reduce the risk of illness or injury while working as an engineer. This includes prescription sunglasses.

    You can claim a deduction for the cost of sunscreen or a sunhat if wearing it:

    • has the necessary connection with earning your employment income
    • protects you from the risk of illness or injury at work because your employment duties require you to spend prolonged periods outdoors.

    If you also wear these items for private purposes, you can only claim a deduction for the work-related portion.

    Example: claiming sunglasses

    Harold works for a small electrical company in far north Queensland. He regularly works at more than one location each day and drives his employer's truck when travelling from job to job. He wears sunglasses for protection against the glare of the sun while driving the truck. He also needs to wear glasses while driving, for his short-sightedness.

    He buys a pair of prescription sunglasses which counter the glare during day driving. He also buys a pair of untinted prescription glasses for night driving.

    Harold can claim a deduction for the prescription sunglasses, but not for the untinted prescription glasses.

    End of example

    See also:

    For more engineer expenses, see:

      Last modified: 30 Apr 2020QC 22571