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  • Common expenses P–S

    Details on claiming common office worker expenses for:

    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

    Sebastian uses his mobile phone for work purposes. He is on a set plan of $49 a month and rarely exceeds the plan cap.

    He receives an itemised account from his phone provider each month that includes details of his individual calls.

    At least once a year, Sebastian prints out his account and highlights the work-related calls he made. He makes notes on his account for the first month about who he is calling for work – for example, his manager and his clients.

    Out of the 300 calls he has made in a four-week period, Sebastian works out that 30 (10%) of the individual call expenses billed to him are for work and applies that percentage to his cap amount of $49 a month.

    He works out his calls for work purposes as follows:

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

    30 ÷ 300 = 10%

    Sebastian can claim 10% of the total bill of $49 for each month for work purposes, that is:

    $49 × 0.10 = $4.90

    Since Sebastian was only at work for 46 weeks of the year (10.6 months), he calculates his work-related mobile phone expense deduction as follows:

    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. Sylvette uses her computer and the internet for work and private purposes.

    Sylvette's internet use diary showed 40% 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 × 0.40 = $480 as work-related internet use.

    End of example

    See also:

    Claiming mobile phone, internet and home phone expenses

    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 office worker and it:

    • maintains or improves the skills and knowledge you need for your current duties – for example, a manager completing a human resources training for managing staff
    • results in or is likely to result in an increase in your income from your current employment.

    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.

    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 are not deductible.

    Example: self-education not deductible

    Alan is employed as an administration officer in an advertising firm. He enrols in a Bachelor of Business (Marketing) to increase his knowledge and opportunity for promotion.

    Alan can't claim a deduction for the course or related study expenses as the course does not directly relate to his current employment as an administration officer.

    End of example


    Example: self-education to improve or maintain current skills or knowledge

    Whitney is employed as an assistant office manager in an architecture firm. She enrols in a Diploma of Business Administration.

    Whitney 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 (VETSL)
    • Student Financial Supplement Scheme (SFSS)
    • the Student Start-up Loan
    • the Trade Support Loan Program (TSL)

    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 office worker.

    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 office worker.

    Example: training not related to current role

    Jenny is employed as an office worker. She has been struggling to keep up with her work commitments and become stressed. Jenny decides to undertake a time and stress management course.

    She can't claim a deduction as the course does not directly relate to maintaining or increasing her knowledge, capabilities or skills needed in her current role.

    End of example


    Example: no cost incurred for training

    Isaac is employed as an accountant’s assistant. His employer requires him to attend an interstate conference with other members of the practice to learn how to better serve their clients in an increasingly digital world. Isaac’s employer pays for his flights, accommodation and registration expenses.

    Isaac can't claim a deduction for any of these costs as he did not incur the expense.

    End of example

    For more office workers' expenses, see:

      Last modified: 04 May 2020QC 18955