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  • Common expenses T–W

    Details on claiming common office worker expenses for:

    Technical or professional publications

    You can claim a deduction for the cost of journals, periodicals and magazines that have content sufficiently connected to your employment as an office worker.

    Tools and equipment

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

    If a tool or item of equipment cost you $300 or less, and you use it for work only, you can claim a deduction for the whole cost in the year you purchased it. Otherwise, you can claim a deduction for the cost over the life of the item (that is; decline in value).

    If the item is part of a set that together cost more than $300, you can claim a deduction for the set over the life of the asset.

    If you also use the tool or item of equipment for private purposes, you can only claim the work-related portion.

    If you bought the tool or item of equipment part way through the year, you can only claim a deduction for the portion of the year that you owned it.

    You can also claim a deduction for the cost of repairs to tools and equipment.

    You can't claim a deduction for tools and equipment that are supplied by your employer or another person.

    Example: apportioned deduction for decline in value

    Byron is employed by a technology company as an office manager. He regularly works from home and purchases a laptop for $1200 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

    See also:

    Travel expenses

    You can claim a deduction for the costs you incur on accommodation, meals and incidentals when you travel for work and sleep away from your home overnight in the course of performing your employment duties. For example, you're required to travel to a remote office to carry out your work duties.

    You can't claim a deduction for accommodation where you have not incurred any accommodation expenses, because you:

    • sleep in accommodation provided by your employer
    • are reimbursed for any costs by your employer.

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

    • you were away overnight
    • you spent the money
    • the allowance was included in your assessable income
    • the travel was directly related to earning your employment income
    • how you calculated your claim.

    Each year, we set a reasonable amount for travel expenses. Generally, you're required to get and keep written evidence, such as receipts, when you claim a deduction for travel expenses. However, if you are claiming a deduction and spent:

    • up to the reasonable amount, you don't have to get and keep receipts
    • more than the reasonable amount, you must get and keep receipts for all your expenses.

    If you spent and are claiming a deduction up to the reasonable amount for meals we have set (on a meal by meal basis), you don't have to get and keep receipts.

    Example: travel expenses with allowance

    Latisha is employed as 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 has actually incurred the meal expenses
    • reported 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:

    Union and professional association fees

    You can claim a deduction for union and professional association fees you pay. If the amount you paid is shown on your income statement or payment summary, you can use it to prove your claim.

    See also:

    Working from home

    You can claim a deduction for the additional running expenses of an office or a study at home that you use to earn your income working as an office worker.

    Running expenses include:

    • decline in value of home office equipment
    • the costs of repairs to your home office furniture and fittings
    • heating, cooling, lighting and cleaning expenses

    If you are working from home as a result of COVID-19, we have specific information about expenses – see Working from home during COVID-19.

    Only the additional running costs incurred as a result of working from home are deductible. For example, if you work in your lounge room when others are also present, the cost of lighting and heating or cooling that room is not deductible because there is no additional cost for those expenses as a result of you working from home.

    You can’t claim occupancy expenses, such as rent, rates, mortgage interest and house insurance premiums.

    In limited circumstances, you may be able to claim a deduction if your home office is considered to be a 'place of business'. If your only income is paid to you as an employee, you aren't considered to be carrying on a business.

    Diary records noting the time the home office was used for work are acceptable evidence of a connection between the use of a home office and your work. You'll need to keep diary records during a representative four-week period.

    The Home office expenses calculator helps calculate the amount you can claim as a deduction for home office expenses.

    See also:

    For more office workers' expenses, see:

    Find out about office workers':

      Last modified: 04 May 2020QC 18955