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  • Common expenses A–F

    Details on claiming common performing artist expenses for:

    Agents fees

    You can claim a deduction for commissions paid to theatrical agents. If your employment contract allows for renegotiation, review or extending the contract, the costs of doing so will be an allowable deduction. These are expenses you incur in gaining your employment income.

    You can't claim a deduction for upfront or joining fees. This is because you incur the expense before you start the employment.

    Example: agent fees

    Zahra is an actress and joins an acting agency to help further her career. She pays a setup fee as part of joining the agency. Zahra is offered a contract to be one of the leads in a TV series for one year with a mutual option to extend the contract. The show turns out to be a large success and her agency negotiates to extend the contract for another year.

    Zahra can't claim the costs of joining the agency as it enables her to get work. She can claim the costs to renegotiate her contract as it is part of her employment activity.

    End of example

    Audition expenses

    You can't claim a deduction for the cost of preparing for or attending auditions, as you incur these expenses in getting work rather than doing work.

    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 work 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, from your rehearsal for a musical production directly to your second job as a dance teacher
    • to and from an alternate workplace for the same employer on the same day – for example, travelling from a costume fitting directly to the commercial shoot.

    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 the 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: transporting equipment

    Andre is a street performer and as part of his act he needs several items of equipment that are large and heavy. His employer doesn't supply a secure area at his workplace for his performance equipment, so he must transport his equipment between his home and work every day.

    Andre can claim a deduction for the expenses he incurs to transport his equipment between his home and work because he meets all of the following conditions:

    • there is no secure place to store his equipment at his workplace
    • the equipment is bulky
    • the equipment is essential to Andre's performance.
    End of example

     

    Example: storage is available

    Jocelyn is a theatre director, and she requires large and bulky equipment to perform her role. Her employer provides a secure storage area to store her equipment. However, Jocelyn chooses to transport her equipment between home and work every day, instead of leaving them in the secure storage room provided.

    Jocelyn can't claim a deduction for transporting her equipment between home and work as she has made a personal choice to transport her equipment. Her work has not created a practical need to transport bulky tools between home and work. Therefore, it is 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, gym clothes worn by employee performing artists.

    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 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 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.

    Example: conventional clothing

    Benjamin, a stage manager, has to wear a black shirt, black pants and black shoes when working. There's no employer logo on any of the items.

    Mike can't claim the cost of buying these items, even though his employer requires him to wear a specific colour. They are not distinctive enough to make them part of a uniform and are still considered conventional clothes.

    End of example

     

    Example: occupation-specific clothing

    Anna is a burlesque dancer and is required to buy and wear a costume with specific shoes when performing. She isn't reimbursed by her employer for any of these expenses.

    Anna can claim the cost of buying the costume and shoes as they aren't conventional items that she would normally wear. These items are distinctive and relevant to her role as a burlesque dancer.

    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 is a dancer and attends a social breakfast organised by a theatre company. These breakfasts are held every other month to encourage performing artists within the region to network.

    Rachael can't claim a deduction for the cost of attending the breakfast, as these events do not have a direct connection to her income-producing activities as a dancer.

    End of example

    Fitness expenses

    You generally can’t claim gym and fitness expenses (such as skipping ropes, weights and other fitness equipment) even if you need to pass medical examinations and fitness tests to maintain your employment for your role. These are private expenses except in very limited circumstances.

    You can claim a deduction in very limited circumstances, where your role requires you have an extremely high level of fitness. This will be the case where your role requires you to both:

    • maintain an extremely high level of fitness well above the general occupation standard
    • perform ongoing strenuous physical activities as an essential and regular part of your role.

    For example, trapeze artists or tumblers working in a circus.

    You can’t in any circumstances claim a deduction for expenses you incur to buy conventional clothing you use in the course of keeping fit. This includes tracksuits, running or aerobic shoes, socks, sporting shirts or shorts.

    Example: deductible fitness expenses

    Nola is a trapeze artist and tumbler with a circus. She has a gym membership and takes regular pilates and yoga classes. Nola's role requires her to train and rehearse with her company to develop new trapeze and tumbling routines and perform six nights a week.

    Nola can claim her fitness costs. Her job is to rehearse and perform trapeze and tumbling acts for the circus which is a strenuous physical activity that is essential and regular part of her duties. Maintaining an extremely high level of physical fitness is essential to her job.

    End of example

     

    Example: deductible expense and private expense

    Octavia is a professional ballerina and is required to maintain an extremely high level of fitness. To maintain her fitness, she purchases a gym membership, gym clothing and trains daily. Octavia also rehearses with her company to develop new performances. Her job requires her to perform in theatres Thursday to Sunday most weeks.

    Octavia can claim a deduction for her gym membership. Her job requires her to rehearse and perform regularly which is a strenuous physical activity that is essential and regular to her duties. However, Octavia can't claim a deduction for her gym clothes, as they are conventional clothing.

    End of example

     

    Example: private fitness expense

    Alyce works as a show dance teacher on weekends. Alyce has a membership at a private gym and goes there three times a week to maintain her fitness.

    Alyce can't claim the cost of gym fees as this is a private expense. While Alyce needs to keep a level of fitness for her employment, her role doesn't require strenuous physical activity as part of the performance of her duties.

    End of example

    For more performing artists expenses, see:

      Last modified: 19 Feb 2021QC 51260