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  • Common expenses A–F

    Details on claiming common police officer expenses for:

    Ammunition

    You can claim a deduction for the cost of additional ammunition you buy for work-related training purposes.

    Example: additional ammunition deductible

    Melissa is a police officer who carries a firearm when she is on duty. Her employer provides with sufficient ammunition for use in the normal course of her duty and for any official firearm proficiency training.

    To improve her skills, Melissa attends the shooting range every 3 months for target practice. As it is not official training, Melissa's employer doesn't provide with ammunition from her employer so she buys ammunition at the shooting range.

    Melissa can claim a deduction for the additional ammunition she buys for training to improve her firearm proficiency skills.

    End of example

    Bags and cases for work items

    If you use a bag or a case – for example, a briefcase, to carry items for work, you can claim a deduction to the extent that you use it work purposes.

    Work items may include laptops, legal documents, briefs and protective gear. Private and domestic items like gym gear, food or a personal phone or tablet are not work items. To be deductible, your job must require you to transport work items and the bag must be suitable for that purpose.

    If the bag or case cost you $300 or less, and you use it for work only, you can claim a deduction for the whole cost of the bag in the year you buy it.

    If the bag or case cost more than $300, you can claim a deduction for its decline in value over the bag's or case's effective life.

    If you use the bag or case to carry both work and private items, you need to apportion the expense between work-related and private use. You can only claim the work-related portion of the cost.

    Example: bag deductible

    Michael is a police prosecutor who buys a leather satchel for $450. He uses the satchel to carry confidential material and legal documents to court. Michael doesn't use the satchel for any other purpose.

    As the satchel cost more than $300, Michael can claim a deduction for the decline in value of the satchel.

    End of example

     

    Example: bag not deductible

    Francisco is an employee police officer. He buys a holdall bag for $250 and uses it every day to take his lunch, personal tablet and gym clothes to work.

    Francisco can't claim a deduction for the bag, as he only uses it to transport private items to and from work.

    End of example

    Bulletproof jackets and vests or body armour

    The police department normally supplies and replaces bulletproof jackets, vests, body armour and similar items. You can claim a deduction for the cost of additional or more sophisticated equipment you use for work-related activities.

    Car expenses

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

    • live a long way from your usual or regular workplace
    • have to work outside normal business hours – for example, weekend or early morning shifts
    • have to carry an item that is illegal to carry on public transport.

    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
      • they 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 before returning home.

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

    • directly between separate jobs on the same day – for example, you travel from your job as a police officer to a second job as a security guard
    • to and from an alternative workplace for the same employer on the same day – for example, when you travel from the police station to the scene of a crime or to attend a conference at police headquarters before going to work at your normal station
    • from home directly to an alternative workplace – for example, travelling from home to court to give evidence in a criminal trial or to a local school to conduct safety discussions with the students.

    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 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.

    If you claim your work-related car expenses using one of the above methods, you can’t claim any further deductions in the same tax return for the same car. For example, petrol, servicing, and insurance costs.

    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 van).

    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. Although you are not required to keep a logbook, it is the easiest way to calculate your work-related use of the vehicle.

    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: using own car for work-related purpose

    Jose must take a bi-annual weapons training course. To do this, he must collect his weapon from the police station, travel to the range and then return the weapon to the police station.

    A fleet car isn't available, so Jose uses his own vehicle to attend the training.

    Jose can claim a deduction for the car expenses he incurs in attending the training.

    End of example

     

    Example: travel between two places of employment

    Helen is a constable stationed in a suburban police station and has approved secondary employment. On Friday nights, she travels directly from the police station to her other employment.

    Helen can claim a deduction for the car expenses she incurs travelling between the police station and her other workplace.

    End of example

     

    Example: reimbursement for using own vehicle

    Ian attends training at the police academy. He uses his own vehicle to drive from his home to the academy and then onto the police station. His employer reimburses him on a cents per kilometre basis.

    At the end of the income year, Ian's employer reports the cents per kilometre reimbursement on his income statement as an allowance.

    Ian declares the reimbursement amount as income in his tax return.

    Ian can claim a deduction for car expenses he incurs when he travels from his home to the police academy and then onto the station. He can't claim the car expenses he incurs for the trip between the station and his home. This is a normal trip between his regular workplace and his home.

    End of example

     

    Example: incidental or private travel

    Raj needs to do some personal shopping. He notices there are some documents he could drop into the courthouse, which is on the way to the shops. Raj drops the documents off on his way through.

    Raj can't claim a deduction for the car expenses as the trip was for private purposes and dropping off the documents was incidental.

    End of example

     

    Example: Salary sacrifice car under a novated lease

    Amy is a Federal Police officer. She uses a salary sacrifice arrangement through her employer for a car under a novated lease. Amy drives to her office every day as well as using her car to attend meetings at locations other than the office.

    Amy can't claim any of the expenses that relate to the running of her car as it is on a salary sacrifice arrangement.

    End of example

    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 can't be deducted as a work-related expense.

    Generally, 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 a police officer to attend court and give evidence or plain clothes police.

    You may be able to claim a deduction for the cost of conventional clothing if you're working as an undercover police officer and you buy additional conventional clothing to wear during a specific operation. The clothing must directly relate to your income-earning activities as a police officer. For example, clothing which you would not normally wear which is worn to pose as a member of a gang.

    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 – clothing with protective features or functions you wear to protect yourself from specific risks of injury or illness at work. For example, steel-capped boots or fire-resistant clothing. 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, trousers, socks or closed shoes such as sneakers.
    • occupation specific clothing – clothing that distinctly identifies you as a person 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.
    • a compulsory uniform – clothing 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 – clothing that your employer registers on the Register of Approved Occupational Clothing with AusIndustry.

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

    Example: compulsory uniform

    George is a student police officer in New South Wales. He must buy and wear physical training clothing (such as, tracksuit, shorts, t-shirts) of a specific colour scheme with a distinctive police logo and design.

    These items form part of the compulsory uniform worn by student police officers. George can claim a deduction for buying and maintaining the training clothes.

    End of example

     

    Example: conventional clothing that is not protective clothing

    Cheryl is a police officer in Melbourne. Although Cheryl is provided with a heavy jacket to wear as part of her compulsory uniform, when she works the night shift on patrol in winter, she gets very cold.

    Cheryl buys some thermal woollen underwear and a polar fleece jumper to wear when she is on patrol during the night shift in winter.

    As Cheryl doesn't work in an extreme cold weather environment, such as an Alpine area, the thermal underwear and jacket are not protective items. The thermals don't protect Cheryl from the risk of illness while she is working. The clothes are private conventional clothing and Cheryl can't claim a deduction for them.

    End of example

    Club membership fees

    You can't claim a deduction for club membership fees, except for Federal or State Police pistol clubs.

    Example: pistol club membership not deductible

    Lucas is a State police officer who joins his local pistol club.

    Lucas can't claim a deduction for the cost of joining his local pistol club.

    However, if Lucas joined the Federal or State Police pistol club to improve his firearm proficiency for work purposes, he could claim a deduction for his membership fees.

    End of example

    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.

    You can claim a deduction for additional costs you incur to get a special licence or condition on your licence to perform your work duties. For example, the cost you incur to get a heavy vehicle permit.

    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 work matters at the event. Entertainment and social functions include the cost of:

    • work breakfasts, lunches or dinners
    • attendance at sporting events as a spectator
    • 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 the Police Union. These breakfasts are held every other month to encourage police officers within the region to meet socially with colleagues.

    Rachael can't claim a deduction for the cost of attending the breakfast.

    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.

    Example: traffic fine

    Chris is a detective. While driving to Court to appear as a witness in a criminal matter, he runs a red light because he is running late. Chris receives a fine which he pays.

    Chris can't claim a deduction for the fine even though he was travelling for work purposes at the time the offence.

    End of example

    Firearms, guns and related equipment

    Firearms, guns and related equipment is normally supplied by your employer. You can't claim a deduction for any equipment provided to you.

    You can claim a deduction for the decline in value of gun-related equipment, such as a speed loader, a sighting device or sling weapon grip that you purchase and use for work-related purposes.

    You can also claim a deduction for the cost of cleaning your police issued firearms, guns and related equipment and the gun-related equipment you purchase and use for work.

    Example: cleaning expenses for gun and gun-related equipment

    Cassandra is a State police officer and is her employer provides her with a gun. Cassandra must keep her gun in good working order. To do this, Cassandra cleans her gun regularly using products she buys.

    Cassandra can't claim a deduction for her gun because she didn't buy it. Her employer supplies her with it.

    Cassandra can claim a deduction for cleaning products she buys to keep her gun in good working order.

    End of example

    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.

    Fitness expenses

    You generally can’t claim gym and fitness expenses (such as skipping ropes, weights and other fitness equipment). This is the case 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 i 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.

    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 even if it has to be a particular colour. This includes tracksuits, running or aerobic shoes, socks, sporting shirts or shorts.

    Example: claiming physical training expenses

    Alex is a member of the Diving Squad. His duties require him to maintain an extremely high level of fitness as they involve regular strenuous activity. For example, rescues or searches in extreme water conditions for extended periods of time. To maintain this level of fitness, Alex does weight training 3 times a week at a city gym.

    As Alex's duties require him to maintain an extremely high level of fitness, he can claim a deduction for his gym fees.

    End of example

     

    Example: can't claim a deduction for physical training expenses

    Jason, a general duty police officer, attends his local gym 3 times a week in his own time.

    However, as Jason's employer doesn't require him to maintain a level of fitness above the general standard, he can't claim a deduction for any costs he incur to attend the gym.

    End of example

    For more police officer expenses, see:

      Last modified: 26 Apr 2022QC 20810