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  • Common expenses T–W

    Details on claiming common office worker expenses for:

    Taxi, ride-share, public transport and car hire

    You can claim a deduction for transport costs if you travel in the course of performing your work. For example, taking a taxi from your regular workplace to another work location.

    You can’t claim a deduction for travel expenses between home and work, these are private expenses.

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

    Tools and equipment

    You can claim a deduction for tools and equipment you use to perform your duties as an office worker.

    You can only claim a deduction for the work-related use of the item.

    If a tool or item of equipment cost you $300 or less, you can claim a deduction for full amount in the year you buy it if:

    • you use it mainly for work purposes
    • it's not part of a set that together cost more than $300.

    You can claim a deduction for the cost over the life of the item (that is, decline in value), if the tool or equipment:

    • cost more than $300
    • is part of a set that together cost more than $300.

    If you bought the tool or item of equipment part way through the year, you can only claim a deduction for the decline in value for the period of the income year that you own it.

    You can also claim a deduction for the cost of repairs to tools and equipment that you use for work purposes.

    You can't claim a deduction for tools and equipment that your employer or a third-party supplies for use.

    Example: apportioned deduction for decline in value

    Byron is an office manager for a technology company. He regularly works from home and buys a laptop for $1,200 to use for work purposes.

    Byron regularly uses the laptop to stream movies and television shows as well as buy personal goods online. Byron calculates his work-related use of the laptop as 60%.

    Byron can claim a deduction for the decline in value over the effective life of the laptop using either the prime cost method or the diminishing value method. He can choose whichever method he prefers. However, once the choice is made it can't be changed in future years.

    If the laptop's decline in value is $600, Byron's deduction is reduced to $360, that is, 60% of the laptop's decline in value.

    End of example

     

    Example: equipment costing less than $300

    Brinn works in the office at an employment agency. He purchases a pair of headphones costing $249. Brinn does not use the headphones outside of work.

    As the headphones cost less than $300, he can claim a deduction for the full amount in the year you buy it, as:

    • he uses it mainly for work purposes
    • it's not part of a set that together cost more than $300.
    End of example

    See also:

    Travel expenses

    You can claim a deduction for expenses you incur when your work requires you to both:

    • travel for work
    • sleep away from your home overnight in the course of performing your employment duties.

    Expenses you can claim include your accommodation, meals and expenses which are incidental to the travel (incidentals). For example, you're required to travel to a remote office to carry out your work duties.

    You can't claim a deduction for travel expenses where you don't incur any expenses, because:

    • you slept in accommodation your employer provides
    • you eat meals your employer provides
    • your employer or a third party reimburses you for any costs you incur.

    Receiving an allowance from your employer doesn't automatically mean you can claim a deduction. In all cases, you must be able to show:

    • you were away overnight
    • you have spent the money
    • the travel directly relates to earning your employment income
    • how you work out your claim.

    If you receive a travel allowance you must include it as assessable income in your tax return unless all of the following apply:

    • the travel allowance is not shown on your income statement or payment summary
    • the travel allowance doesn't exceed the Commissioner's reasonable amount (the reasonable amount is the amount we set each year for determining whether an exception from keeping written evidence applies for accommodation, meal and incidental expenses which are covered by a travel allowance)
    • you spent the whole allowance on deductible accommodation, meal and incidental expenses, if applicable.

    The Commissioner's reasonable amount is set each year. The amount is used to determine whether an exception from keeping written evidence applies for the following expenses which are covered by a travel allowance:

    • accommodation
    • meal
    • incidentals.

    You don’t have to keep written evidence such as receipts if both of the following apply:

    • you received a travel allowance from your employer for the expenses
    • your deduction is less than the Commissioner’s reasonable amount.

    If you claim a deduction for more than the Commissioner’s reasonable amount you need to keep receipts for all expenses, not just for the amount over the Commissioner’s reasonable amount.

    Even if you are not required to keep written evidence such as receipts, you must be able to explain your claim and show you spent the amounts. For example, show your work diary, that you received and correctly declared your travel allowance and bank statements.

    Example: travel expenses with allowance

    Latisha is an office worker in a regional office located in Rockhampton. Once a month she is required to travel to Brisbane for meetings at head office. Her employer pays for her flights and accommodation and provides a travel allowance for her breakfast, lunch and dinner.

    If Latisha spends less than the reasonable amount on her meals she isn't required to keep receipts. She can claim a deduction up to the Commissioner’s reasonable amount for breakfast, lunch and dinner so long as:

    • she actually incurs the meal expenses
    • she reports the allowance in her tax return.

    Latisha can't claim the cost of her flights and accommodation as she does not incur the cost for these expenses.

    End of example

     

    Example: work-related travel with private travel component

    David’s employer requires that he travel to Perth for planning meetings. While he is there his employer allows David to extend his stay to explore the city and tourist attractions.

    David has kept the receipts for all of the expenses he incurred during the trip.

    Upon his return, David’s employer reimburses him for the work-related travel, accommodation, meal and incidental expenses he incurred.

    Although David has kept his receipts, he is not entitled to any further deductions as his employer has reimbursed him for the full cost of the work-related travel and his remaining expenses are private in nature.

    End of example

    See also:

    • TD 2020/5 Income tax: what are the reasonable travel and overtime meal allowance expense amounts for the 2020-21 income year?
    • Travel expenses

    Union and professional association fees

    You can claim a deduction for union and professional association fees you pay. You can use your income statement as evidence of the amount you pay if it's shown on there.

    See also:

    For more office workers' expenses, see:

    Find out about office workers':

      Last modified: 10 Feb 2021QC 18955