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  • Common expenses A–F

    Details on claiming common office worker expenses for:

    Car expenses

    You can't claim a deduction for normal trips between your home and work. These are private expenses, even if you:

    • live a long way from your usual workplace
    • have to work outside normal business hours (for example, weekend or early morning shifts).

    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 or where you had shifting places of employment.

    To be able to claim a deduction for the cost of trips between home and work while carrying bulky tools or equipment, all the following conditions must be met:

    • the tools or equipment are essential to perform your employment duties
    • the tools or equipment are bulky, meaning that
      • because of the size and weight, they are awkward to transport, and
      • can only be transported conveniently using a motor vehicle
       
    • there is no secure storage for such items at the workplace.

    It will not be sufficient if you transport the tools or equipment merely as a matter of choice. For example, if your employer provides reasonably secure storage, your decision to transport items home will be a matter of choice.

    You are considered to have shifting places of employment where you have no fixed place of work and you continually travel from one work site to another.

    You can also claim a deduction for the cost of using a car you own, lease or hire (under a hire-purchase agreement) when you drive:

    • between separate jobs on the same day – for example, travelling to your second job as a musician
    • to and from an alternate workplace for the same employer on the same day – for example, travelling to a different office to attend a meeting for the same employer
    • from home directly to an alternate workplace – for example, travelling from home to meet a client at their business premises which is not your primary work location.

    You can't claim car expenses for a car you use under a salary sacrifice or novated lease arrangement. This is because it's usually your employer leasing the car from the financing company and making it available for your use. You can however claim additional work-related expenses you incur that are associated with your work use of the car such as parking and tolls.

    To claim a deduction, you must keep records of your car use. You can choose between the logbook method or cents per kilometre method to work out your deduction.

    If you use the logbook method, you need to keep a valid logbook to help you work out the percentage of work-related use along with written evidence of your car expenses.

    If you use the cents per kilometre method, you need to be able to show how you work out your work-related kilometres. You must be able to show that the kilometres travelled were work-related.

    To claim a deduction in your tax return, include the amount of your claim at ‘Work-related car expenses’. The Work-related car expenses calculator can help you work out the amount you can claim as a deduction.

    You can’t use the cents per kilometre or logbook methods to work out your claim for a:

    • motorcycle
    • vehicle with a carrying capacity of one tonne or more (such as a ute)
    • vehicle that can transport nine passengers or more (such as a people mover).

    For these vehicles, you can claim the actual expenses you incur for your work-related travel. This includes costs such as fuel, oil, insurance and loan interest along with the decline in value of the vehicle. You must keep receipts for all your expenses and records to show your work-related use of the vehicle. The easiest way to do this is to keep a logbook or documents that provide similar details to a logbook.

    To claim a deduction for actual expenses you incur for a vehicle not defined as a car, include the amount at ‘Work-related travel expenses’.

    Example: travelling between two jobs and keeping receipts

    During the day, Hana works in an office performing clerical duties. After work, she travels directly from her office to her second job at a local supermarket.

    Hanna is able to claim a deduction for the travel between her two workplaces. She can't claim a deduction for the travel between her home and the workplaces.

    To help work out her car expenses, Hanna uses the myDeductions tool in the ATO app to record her trips using the digital logbook. This gives her an accurate record of the kilometres she travels in the income year. She uploads these records to her tax return when she is ready to lodge.

    End of example

     

    Example: travelling to and from an alternative workplace

    Ruby is a data analyst. Her regular workplace is an office in the city CBD, however she is sometimes required to attend a monthly meeting at one of the regional offices.

    Ruby uses her own car to travel to the meetings. After the meetings she drives directly home.

    Ruby can claim a deduction for the cost of travelling from her regular workplace in the city, to the meeting at the regional office and then to her home.

    End of example

     

    Example: travelling outside of regular work hours

    Jonathon is employed as a clerical officer. His normal work hours are 8.30am until 5.00pm. One day Jonathon decides to stay at work until 9.00pm to finish a project.

    Even though Jonathon is travelling home from work outside his regular hours, he can’t claim a deduction. This travel between Jonathon's home and his regular workplace is still considered a private expense.

    End of example

    For more detailed information, see:

    See also:

    Child care

    You can't claim a deduction for the cost of child care (including school holidays and before and after school care) when you're working. It's a private expense, and the expenses have no direct connection to earning your income.

    Clothing and uniform expenses (including footwear)

    With a few exceptions, clothing is a private expense. You can't claim conventional clothing (including footwear) as a work-related expense, even if your employer requires you to wear it and you only wear these items of clothing at work.

    'Conventional clothing' is everyday clothing worn by people regardless of their occupation – for example, business attire worn by office workers.

    You can claim a deduction for costs you incur to buy, hire, repair or replace clothing, uniforms and footwear you wear at work if it's in one of the following categories:

    • protective clothing
    • occupation specific clothing
    • a compulsory uniform, that your employer strictly and consistently enforces you wear by workplace agreement or policy and distinctly identifies either
      • you as an employee working for a particular employer
      • the products or services your employer provides
       
    • a non-compulsory uniform, that your employer listed on the Register of Approved Occupational Clothing with AusIndustry.

    Protective clothing is clothing you wear to protect yourself from specific risks of injury or illness at work. The clothing must have protective features or functions (for example, cleaning aprons, non-slip shoes or smocks worn to stop you coming into contact with harmful substance). Conventional clothes you wear at work are not regarded as protective clothing if they lack protective qualities designed for the risks of your work. This includes jeans, drill shirts, shorts, trousers, socks, closed shoes.

    Occupation specific clothing is clothing that distinctly identifies you as a person associated with a particular profession, trade or occupation (for example a judge's robes or a chef's chequered pants). Items traditionally worn in a profession are not occupation-specific where the clothing is worn by multiple professions.

    You can't claim a deduction if your employer buys, repairs or replaces your clothing, footwear or protective clothing.

    Example: compulsory uniform with logo

    Mika is an office assistant and her employer requires she wear shirts her employer has designed with the company logo embroidered on them. Mika buys two shirts from her employer. As part of her uniform, she also has to wear plain black pants and black shoes.

    Mika can claim a deduction for the cost of buying the shirts as they are:

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

    However, she can't claim the cost of buying the black pants or shoes as it is a private expense because they are conventional clothing.

    End of example

     

    Example: conventional clothing

    Lena wears a business suit to work. It's not 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 buying or cleaning these items because they are private in nature, even if her employer tells her to wear them.

    End of example

    See also:

    Driver's licence

    You can't claim a deduction for the cost to get or renew 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, fundraising or social functions. This applies even if they are compulsory, non-compulsory or you discuss business matters at the event. Entertainment and social functions include the cost of:

    • business breakfasts, lunches or dinners
    • attendance at sporting events
    • gala or social nights
    • concerts or dances
    • cocktail parties
    • other similar types of functions or events.

    These are private expenses because these events do not have a direct connection to your income-producing activities.

    You also can’t claim the cost of travelling to and from functions.

    Example: entertainment costs

    Rachael attends a social breakfast organised by a professional association. These breakfasts are held every other month to encourage office professionals to meet socially with colleagues.

    Rachael can't claim a deduction for the cost of attending the breakfast even though her employer encourages staff to attend.

    End of example

    Fines and penalties

    You can't claim a deduction for any fines you get when you travel to work or during work. Fines may include parking and speeding fines or penalties.

    First aid courses

    You can claim a deduction for the cost of first aid training courses if you are both:

    • a designated first aid person
    • need to complete a first aid training course to assist in emergency work situations.

    You can’t claim a deduction if your employer pays for or reimburses you for the cost of the course.

    For more office workers' expenses, see:

      Last modified: 10 Feb 2021QC 18955