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  • Media professionals – income and work-related deductions

    If you earn your income as an employee media professional (journalist), this guide will help you work out what:

    • income and allowances to report
    • you can and can't claim as a work-related deduction
    • records you need to keep.

    Find out about media professionals':

    Income – salary and allowances

    Include all the income you receive during the income year in your tax return, this includes:

    Don't include reimbursements.

    Your income statement or payment summary will show all your salary, wages and allowances for the income year.

    Salary and wages

    You must include your salary and wages as income in your tax return. Include any bonuses.

    Allowances

    Include all allowances shown on your income statement or payment summary as income in your tax return.

    While all allowances you receive from your employer are income, you can't always claim a deduction if you receive an allowance – it depends on the situation.

    If you can claim a deduction, the amount of the deduction is not usually the same amount as the allowance you receive.

    Allowance types, reasons and deductibility

    Reason for allowance

    Example of allowance type

    Deduction (Yes or No)

    Compensation for an aspect of your work that is unpleasant, special or dangerous

    Health and safety representative allowance

    No

    These allowances don't help you pay for deductible work-related expenses

    Compensation for industry peculiarities

    Sub-editing allowance

    No

    These allowances don't help you pay for deductible work-related expenses

    An amount for certain expenses

    Meal allowance when you travel for work

    Yes

    If you incur deductible expenses

    An amount for special skills

    A first aid certificate

    Yes

    If you incur deductible expenses

     

    Example: allowance is assessable income, no deduction allowable

    Leonie is employed by a television network to read the news. Leonie’s employer requires her to dress professionally when she is on air. Clothing isn't provided by Leonie‘s employer but they pay her a clothing allowance of $1,200 each income year which is shown on her income statement at the end of each income year.

    During the income year, Leonie spends $1,840 on clothes to wear while presenting the news.

    Leonie must include the clothing allowance of $1,200 as income in her tax return.

    Leonie can’t claim a deduction for the clothing she buys. Although she is required to dress professionally on air, the clothing she buys is conventional everyday clothing. The expense is private in nature.

    End of example

     

    Example: allowance is assessable income, deduction allowable

    Ron is a journalist for a syndicated newspaper. During the income year, Ron uses his own vehicle to travel:

    • from his office to various locations to interview sources
    • from his office to the library to conduct research
    • to attend training or meetings at other offices.

    Ron's employer pays him 50 cents per kilometre when he uses his car for work purposes. At the end of the year, his income statement shows he was paid an allowance of $1600 for using his car for work (3200 kms × 50 cents).

    Ron must include the car allowance as income in his tax return.

    Ron can claim a deduction for the cost of using his car for work purposes. He can't claim the amount of the allowance he receives. Ron must calculate the amount of the deduction using the records he keeps whenever he uses his own car for work purposes.

    In the past year Ron has kept a record of the work trips he did using his own car, but he doesn't keep a logbook. His records show he travelled 3200 kms for work purposes.

    As Ron has not kept a logbook, he uses the cents per kilometre method to claim a deduction. The cents per kilometre method rate for the income year 2021–22 is 72 cents per kilometre. Ron claims a deduction of $2304.

    End of example

    Difference between allowances and reimbursements

    An allowance doesn't include a reimbursement.

    If your employer pays you:

    • an amount based on an estimate of what you might spend, such as paying cents per kilometre if you use your car for work, then it's an allowance
    • for the actual amount of the expense (either before or after you incur the expense), such as paying for the petrol you use if you use your car for work, it's a reimbursement

    Allowances not on your income statement or payment summary

    Your employer may not include some allowances on your income statement or payment summary. This can apply to travel allowances and overtime meal allowances paid under an industrial law, award or agreement. You can see these allowances on your payslips.

    If the allowance is not on your income statement or payment summary, and you:

    • spent the whole amount on deductible expenses, you  
      • don't include it as income in your tax return
      • can't claim any deductions for these expenses
       
    • spent more than your allowance, you  
      • include the allowance as income in your tax return
      • can claim a deduction for your expense, if you are eligible.
       

    Reimbursements

    If your employer pays you the exact amount for expenses you incur (either before or after you incur them), the payment is a reimbursement. We don't consider a reimbursement to be an allowance.

    If your employer reimburses you for expenses you incur:

    • don't include the reimbursement as income in your tax return
    • you can't claim a deduction for the expenses.

    Find out about media professionals':

      Last modified: 21 Jun 2022QC 51250