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  • Common expenses P–S

    Details on claiming common police officer expenses for:

    Parking fees and tolls

    You can't claim a deduction for parking at or near a regular place of work. You also can't claim a deduction for tolls you incur for trips between your home and work. This is a private expense.

    You can claim a deduction for parking fees and tolls you incur on work-related trips.

    Example: parking fees

    Bruce drives his own car to work each day and parks in the secure parking centre next to the suburban police station where he works.

    Every Wednesday Bruce drives his car into police headquarters in the city for a mandatory briefing, required for the task force he is a member of. He pays for parking and his employer doesn't reimburse him.

    Bruce can't claim the cost of parking at his regular place of work. However, he is able to claim parking when he drives to the city from his station for the briefing as he incurs the cost on a work-related trip.

    End of example

    Phone, data and internet expenses

    You can claim a deduction for phone, data and internet costs for the work-related use of your own phone or electronic devices.

    If your phone, data and internet use for work is incidental and you're not claiming more than $50 in total, you do not need to keep records.

    If you claim more than $50, you need to keep records to show your work use. For example, an itemised bill where you can identify your work-related phone calls and data use.

    You can’t claim a deduction if:

    • your employer provides you with a phone for work and pays for your usage
    • your employer reimburses you for the costs you incur
    • you used the shortcut method for claiming your working from home expenses.

    You can’t claim a deduction for any phone calls to family and friends, even while travelling for work. This is because these are personal calls.

    Example: calculating phone expenses

    Sebastian is a detective and he uses his mobile phone for work purposes. He is on a post-paid plan of $49 a month.

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

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

    As Sebastian needs to keep information about his informants private, he simply marks the call as one he makes or receives from an informant.

    Out of the 300 phone calls he has made and received in a 4 week period, Sebastian works out that 30 (10%) of the individual phone calls are for work. He applies the percentage (10%) to his plan amount of $49 a month.

    He works out his phone calls for work purposes as follows:

    Total work phone calls ÷ total number of phone 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, which is:

    $49 × 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

    Police Academy

    A Police Academy is an establishment where police cadets, recruits, students and sworn police officers undertake structured training programs. For example, recruit training or firearms training.

    Police officers

    Police officers attending the Police Academy are on duty and can be called away from the Academy to perform other duties.

    If you attend a training course at the Police Academy, you can claim a deduction for:

    • expenses incurred for trips between the Police Academy and your home (travel between your home and an alternative work location)
    • expenses incurred for the trip between your regular police station and the Police Academy (travel between work locations for the same employer)

    If you must travel away from your home overnight in order to attend a training program at the Police Academy, you can claim costs you incur for:

    • accommodation
    • meals
    • incidental expenses.

    If your employer pays all of your costs or reimburses you for them, you can't claim a deduction.

    Cadets, Recruits and Students

    Each State and Territory Police Force have different training programs for their cadets and recruits. Differences in the way the cadets and recruits are trained means that the deductions a cadet or recruit can claim in each State and Territory may also be different.

    Specific guidance is available for New South Wales (NSW) recruits. For more information on what you can claim as a student studying to become a probationary constable in NSW, see CR 2006/73 Income tax: NSW probationary constables - self education expenses - Associate Degree of Policing Practice.

    Generally, if you are recruited to the Police Service in any other state or Territory you are required to study at your State or Territory's Police Academy prior to being placed at a police station. During this period, you are employed by your State or Territory Police Service.

    Depending on how your training is structured and whether you are employed by your State or Territory Police Service, you may be able claim a deduction for expenses you incur:

    • for training materials such as books and stationery
    • the decline in value of items of equipment used for your training, such as computers
    • travelling between your home and the Police Academy
    • for accommodation and meals if you are required to travel and stay away from your home overnight to attend the Police Academy.

    You can't claim a deduction for the cost of accommodation and meals you incur if you are not required to travel and stay away from your home overnight to attend the Police Academy. These expenses are private.

    Example: deductible expenses

    Paige is a recruit with the Victorian Police Service. Paige lives at home with her parents in Wangaratta and the Police Academy is located about 3 hours drive from her home.

    Paige stays at the Police Academy while she is undertaking her training as a recruit. An amount is deducted from her pay for the cost of her accommodation and meals while staying at the Police Academy.

    Paige can claim a deduction for the cost of her accommodation and meals while she is attending the Police Academy to undertake her training because she must travel and stay away from her home overnight.

    End of example

     

    Example: deductible expenses

    Brian is a recruit with the Queensland Police Service. Brian lives in a suburb of Brisbane and attends the Police Academy located in Brisbane. Brian drives between his home and the Academy each day.

    For his training at the Police Academy, Brian buys a laptop at a cost of $849 to use for his training at the Police Academy.

    Brian can claim a deduction for the cost of travelling between his home and the Police Academy. He can also claim a deduction for the decline in value of the laptop he bought over its effective life.

    If Brian also uses his laptop for private and training purposes, he will need to apportion the decline in value. He can only claim the portion of the laptop cost that relates to his training.

    If Brian had instead chosen to stay at the Police Academy, he couldn't claim his accommodation and meal expenses. The expenses would be private because Brian isn't required to travel and stay away from his home to complete his training at the Police Academy.

    End of example

    Police dogs

    You can claim a deduction for the costs you incur in maintaining and training police dogs.

    The cost of installing security fences at your private residence for the security of the police dogs is not deductible. The expense is capital and private in nature.

    You can't claim a deduction if your employer met these costs.

    Example: no deduction for police dog expenses

    Adam is a dog handler with the police. A condition of Adam's employment is that he has suitable facilities at his home to kennel the dog.

    Adam's employer provides the kennel for the police dog and they pay the dog's vet bills. Adam receives a reimbursement for the cost of feeding the dog.

    When Adam became a dog handler, he was renting a house with a small yard which didn't have adequate fencing for a dog. As Adam had to have suitable facilities to kennel the dog, he rented a house with a yard large enough to accommodate the kennel and which had adequate fencing to keep the police dog secure.

    Adam can't claim a deduction for the cost of maintaining the police dog. He did not incur anything for the kennel or the vet bills as his employer pays them. Adam also receives reimbursement for the cost of dog food.

    The only cost that Adam incurs is the additional rent when he moves to a house with the right facilities to kennel the dog. The additional rent is a domestic expense and Adam can't claim a deduction for it.

    End of example

    Protective equipment

    You can claim a deduction for the cost of protective equipment you buy and use at work if:

    • you are exposed to the risk of illness or injury in the course of carrying out your employment duties
    • the risk is not remote or negligible
    • there would be reason to expect the use of that kind of protective item in the circumstances
    • you use the item in the course of carrying out your work duties.

    Protective equipment includes gloves, goggles, safety glasses and face masks and face shields.

    Example: deduction for protective equipment

    Vivek is a crime scene examiner. Vivek buys some cut and puncture proof gloves to protect his hands when he is examining a crime scene.

    Vivek can claim a deduction for the cost of the gloves as they protect him from the risk of illness or injury in the course of carrying out his work duties.

    End of example

    Removal and relocation expenses

    You can’t claim a deduction for the cost to transfer or relocate to a new work location. This is the case whether the move is a condition of your existing job or you are taking up a new job.

    Example: relocating due to transfer

    Caitlyn is a highway patrol police officer in Sydney. She temporarily transfers to a position in Newcastle for 2 years.

    Caitlyn can't claim a deduction for her relocation costs, rent or other living expenses.

    End of example

    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 an amount for your work-related use.

    Self-education and study expenses

    You can claim a deduction for self-education and study expenses if it directly relates to your employment as a police officer and it:

    • maintains or improves the skills and knowledge you need for your current duties
    • 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
    • enables you to get employment or change employment.

    If your self-education and study expenses are deductible, you can claim expenses such as course fees, student and amenities fees, textbooks, academic journals and stationery expenses. You will also be able to claim a deduction for the decline in value of any depreciating assets which cost more than $300 that you use for your work-related study.

    You may be able to claim work from home running expenses, but not occupancy expenses, if you study at home.

    You can claim a deduction for transport expenses for:

    • travel between your home and the place of education and then back home
    • the first leg of the trip
      • when you travel from home to the place of education and then on to work
      • when you travel from work to a place of education and then home
    • travel between work and the place of education and then back to work.

    You can't claim a deduction for the repayments you make on your study or training support loan. Study and training support loans include:

    • Higher Education Loan Program (HELP)
    • VET Student Loans (VETSL)
    • Trade Support Loan Program (TSL)
    • Student Financial Supplement Scheme (SFSS)
    • Student Start-up Loan (SSL)

    While course fees may be deductible, fees you incur under the Higher Education Contribution Scheme Higher Education Loan Program (HECS-HELP) scheme are not deductible.

    You generally can't claim a deduction for the first $250 of expenses for self-education.

    If you are a recruit, refer to Police Academy for information on what expenses you can and can't claim.

    Example: education not related to current employment

    John is considering leaving the police force and would like to go into business for himself. He's doing a part-time course in Business Administration.

    As the course is not related to his current employment, he can't claim a deduction.

    End of example

     

    Example: education related to current employment

    Jane is a detective for the Police Department who is studying criminology.

    Jane can claim a deduction for the cost of this course as:

    • there is sufficient connection with her current income-earning activities and
    • the study would enhance her promotion prospects.
    End of example

    Seminars, conferences and training courses

    You can claim a deduction for the cost of seminars, conferences and training courses that relate to your work as a police officer.

    The costs you can claim includes fares to attend the venue where the seminar, conference or training course is held and registration costs. If you need to travel and stay away from home overnight to attend such an event, you can also claim the cost of accommodation and meals.

    You may not be able to claim all of your expenses if attending a seminar, conference or training course is for both work-related and private purposes. If the private purpose is incidental, such as a catered lunch or a reception for delegates, you can still claim all your expenses. However, if the main purpose is not work-related, such as attending a conference while on a holiday, you can only claim the direct costs. Direct costs include the registration costs.

    Where you have a dual purpose for attending the seminar, conference or training course, for example you add a holiday of one week to a training course that runs for one week, then you can only claim the work-related portion.

    Example: training course with personal travel component

    Emily is an inspector and travels to the USA with her family for a 3 week holiday. She notices a 2 day seminar in Boston that would enable her to maintain or improve the skills and knowledge specific to her current income-producing activities. Emily pays for and attends the seminar and her employer doesn't reimburse her.

    Emily can claim a deduction for the cost of attending the seminar as:

    • she incurs the expense
    • it directly relates to earning her income
    • she has a record to prove it.

    Emily can't claim a deduction for the flights, accommodation and incidentals for the rest of the trip as the primary purpose of her travel is private.

    End of example

     

    Example: work-related training course

    Ethan, a member of the Tactical Response Group, attends a 5 day training course in Germany dealing with the use of special weapons and tactical responses for use in emergency or rescue operations.

    Ethan arrives the night before the course commences and travels home the day after it finishes.

    As the course relates to his current duties as a police officer and his sole purpose for the travel to Germany is to attend the course, Ethan can claim a deduction for costs he incurs.

    End of example

    Sunglasses, sunhats and sunscreens

    You can claim a deduction for the work-related use of sunglasses, sunhats and sunscreen lotions if you:

    • must work in the sun for extended periods
    • use these items to protect yourself from the real and likely risk of illness or injury while at work.

    This includes prescription sunglasses and anti-glare glasses.

    You can only claim a deduction for the work-related use of the products if you also wear them for private purposes.

    Example: deduction for sunscreen

    Jacinta is general duties police officer. Each week, Jacinta has at least one day shift where she is patrolling outdoors.

    Jacinta buys a 50+ SPF sunscreen to wear when she is patrolling outdoors to protect her skin from sun damage. Jacinta keeps the sunscreen in her locker at work and doesn't use it for private purposes.

    As Jacinta works in the sun for extended periods of time and she wears the sunscreen to protect herself from the real and likely risk of illness she is exposed to while working. Jacinta can claim a deduction for the cost of the sunscreen.

    End of example

    For more police officer expenses, see:

      Last modified: 26 Apr 2022QC 20810