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  • Common expenses A–F

    Details on claiming common lawyer expenses for:

    Admission fees

    You can't claim a deduction for the cost of admission fees.

    Annual practising certificate fees

    You can claim a deduction for the cost of renewing your annual practising certificate.

    You can't claim a deduction for the initial cost of obtaining your practicing certificate, even if you must have it as a condition of your job. You incur this expense to enable you to get a job, not in the course of your work. This is a private expense.

    Example: prerequisite expenses

    Drew has finished his legal training in Townsville and is looking to start his career as a solicitor. To practice as a solicitor, Drew needs to apply to the Supreme Court of Queensland to be admitted as a lawyer and then apply for a practicing certificate. Until he is granted both, he can't practice law.

    Drew isn't entitled to claim a deduction for the cost of his admission or practicing certificate because he incurs it so he can start earning employment income. Once he is employed, he will be able to deduct the cost of renewing his practice certificate each year, as it allows him to continue earning his income as a solicitor.

    End of example

    Car expenses

    You can't claim a deduction for the normal trips between your home and work, even if you live a long way from your usual workplace or have to work outside normal business hours. 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 of the following conditions are met:

    • The tools or equipment you carry are essential for the performance of your employment duties
    • The tools or equipment are 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.

    In most cases lawyers can't claim bulky tools or equipment, as items carried in a briefcase and the other essential items carried for court appearances aren't considered bulky on their own.

    You can claim a deduction for the cost of using a car you own, lease or hire (under a hire-purchase agreement) when you're travelling for work. For example, when you:

    • drive between separate jobs on the same day – for example, travelling from the court to represent a client to your second job as a university lecturer
    • drive to and from an alternate workplace for the same employer on the same day – for example, you need to go to meet with a client in custody or attend court.

    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 to calculate your deduction.

    If you use the logbook method, you need to keep a valid logbook to help you 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. You must be able to show that the kilometres travelled 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 deduct the actual expenses related to your work travel.

    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 or replace 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.

    Clothing in a specific colour or brand isn't enough to classify clothing 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 repairing conventional or plain clothing worn at work, even if your employer tells you to wear it – for example, suits, ties or cufflinks. These are private expenses.

    Example: conventional clothing

    Lena wears a business suit to work. It isn't compulsory for a staff member to wear a business suit, but the employer encourages staff members to do so.

    Lena can't claim a deduction for the cost of purchasing or cleaning these items, even if her employer tells her to wear them.

    End of example

    Example: compulsory uniform with logo

    Mike is required by his employer to buy and wear company shirts. Each shirt has his employer's company logo embroidered on it. As part of his uniform, he also has to wear plain black pants and black shoes.

    Mike can claim a deduction for the cost of buying and laundering the shirts as they are:

    • distinctive items with the employer's logo
    • compulsory for him to wear at work.

    However, he can't claim the cost of purchasing or cleaning his black pants or shoes as they are items of a conventional nature.

    Mike can't claim a deduction for the cost of the embroidered company shirts if they were provided by his employer or he was reimbursed for the cost.

    End of example

    See also:

    Club membership fees and club sponsorship fees

    You can't claim a deduction for club membership fees – for example, your annual golf club membership fees, even if it helps you to manage client relationships.

    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.

    Entertainment and social functions

    You can't claim a deduction for the cost of any entertainment including functions and events such as:

    • business lunches
    • attendance at sporting events
    • gala or social nights
    • concerts.

    This applies even if you discuss business matters at the occasion.

    You can't claim a deduction for costs incurred in attending compulsory or non- compulsory functions. This includes functions such as dinners, dances and cocktail parties. These expenses are considered to be private and not sufficiently related to the production of income. The cost of travelling to and from functions is also not deductible.

    Example: entertainment costs

    Rachael attends a social breakfast organised by the Australian Bar Association. These breakfasts are held every other month to encourage lawyers within the region to meet socially with colleagues. Rachael isn't entitled to a deduction for the cost of attending the breakfast.

    End of example

    Fines

    You can't claim a deduction for any fines you get when you work. Fines may include, parking fines and speeding fines.

    For more lawyer expenses:

      Last modified: 04 May 2020QC 51251