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  • Common expenses P–S

    Details on claiming common lawyer 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 your work-related use of your own phone or electronic devices.

    You need to keep records to show your work use if you claim more than $50 on phone and internet expenses and you need to be able to show how you calculated your claim.

    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 the apportionment of phone expenses

    Lily uses her mobile phone for work purposes. She is on a set mobile phone plan of $49 a month and rarely exceeds the plan cap.

    Lily receives a monthly itemised account from her phone provider including details of the individual calls she has made.

    Lily prints out her account a few times a year and highlights the work-related calls she made. She notes on her account for the first month about who she is calling for work and privately, for example her employer or parents.

    Of the 200 calls Lily makes in a four-week period, 30 calls (15%) are for work. She applies that percentage to her cap amount of $49 a month.

    Lily calculates her calls for work purposes as follows:

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

    30 ÷ 200 = 15%

    Lily can claim 15% of the total bill of $49 for each month for work purposes

    $49 × 0.15 = $7.35

    Lily worked for 38 weeks of the year (8.8 months), she calculates her work-related mobile phone expense deduction as follows:

    8.8 months × $7.35 = $65

    End of example

    Example: work and private use

    Sylvette uses her computer and personal internet account at home to access her work emails and do research for her cases. Sylvette uses her computer and the internet for work and private purposes.

    Sylvette's internet use diary showed 10% of her internet time was for work-related activities and 90% was for private use. As her internet service provider charge for the year was $1,200 she can claim:

    $1,200 × 0.10 = $120 as work-related internet use.

    End of example

    See also:

    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 a lawyer 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 self-education and training courses you attend to meet your continued professional development (CPD) points.

    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 Bachelor of Law if you are working as a legal secretary.

    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: maintains or improves specific skills or knowledge

    Beryl is employed as solicitor at a large company. She enrols in an online course on effective client interviewing. The skills are required as part of the duties she performs at work. The course deepens her knowledge on interview skills and communications issues and directly ties into the work she does from day to day. Beryl can claim a deduction for the cost of the course.

    End of example

    Example: improves specific skills or knowledge

    Dean is a qualified legal practitioner in commercial law. He wants to improve his knowledge and skills and has decided to complete a Masters of Commercial Law.

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

    End of example

    Example: self-education you can't claim

    Jamie is a lawyer in small firm. Jamie decides that he'd prefer to teach law to high school students, so has decided to return to university to complete a teaching degree. While studying to become a high school teacher, Jamie continues working at the law firm part time.

    When he completes the degree, although he will be employed as a law teacher, his job will have changed significantly.

    Jamie can’t claim a deduction for the study expenses as the degree will allow him to obtain a new job, and although he is teaching law there isn't a sufficient connection with his present employment activities.

    End of example

    Example: education doesn't maintain or improve skills for current role

    Christine holds a Bachelor of Law and has been employed in a law firm for two years as a legal clerk. Christine decides to further her career and complete a Practical Legal Training program to be admitted as a lawyer.

    Christine can't claim a deduction for the expenses she incurs to complete the program as it doesn't directly relate to her current employment as a legal clerk.

    End of example

    Example: no sufficient connection with current role

    Sam is a practising solicitor at a Melbourne law firm. Her employer advises they want her to take on some accounting duties in the future. Sam proceeds to complete a Diploma of Accounting.

    Sam can't claim a deduction for the related self-education expenses as there isn't a sufficient connection with her current employment activities as a solicitor.

    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 (VETSL)
    • Student Financial Supplement Scheme (SFSS)
    • Student Start-up Loan
    • Trade Support Loan 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 a lawyer.

    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 a lawyer.

    Example: deductible seminar

    Timothy is a practising lawyer and a member of a professional law association. Timothy decides to attend a seminar hosted by the association in order to keep up with new legislative changes.

    Timothy can claim a deduction for the seminar fees.

    End of example

    Example: course not related to employment

    Jenny is employed as a lawyer in a legal firm. She has been struggling to keep up with her work commitments and becomes stressed. Jenny decides to undertake a time and stress management course.

    Jenny can't claim a deduction as the course doesn't directly relate to maintaining or increasing her knowledge, capabilities or skills needed in her current position.

    End of example

    Stationery

    You can claim a deduction for the cost of logbooks, diaries and pens that you use for work.

    You can't claim a deduction if your employer reimburses you for these expenses.

    Supreme Court library fees

    You can claim a deduction for Supreme Court library fees you pay on an annual basis. You can't claim a deduction if you pay Supreme Court library fees only once upon admission to practice.

    Suspension from practice

    You can't claim a deduction for the cost of defending your right to practice.

    For more lawyer expenses:

      Last modified: 04 May 2020QC 51251