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  • Common expenses A–F

    Details on claiming common real estate employee expenses for:


    You can claim a deduction for the cost of advertising – for example, through newspapers, letterbox drops, signage and bunting.

    You can't claim a deduction for the cost of advertising if you earn your income from a fixed salary and you aren't entitled to earn commission.

    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 employment 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, travelling from the real estate agency office to your second job as an auctioneer with another agency
    • to and from an alternate workplace for the same employer on the same day – for example, driving between separate real estate offices or residential open homes for the same employer.

    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 evidence of your car expenses.

    If you use the cents per kilometre method, you need to provide a calculation of 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: alternative workplace that isn't a regular workplace

    Trevor is a real estate agent who travels from his normal workplace to his employer's head office to attend a meeting. After the meeting he travels directly back to his normal workplace and then home.

    Trevor can claim the cost of each journey between his workplace and head office as a deduction as the trips are for work purposes and head office isn't somewhere he regularly works.

    End of example


    Example: alternative workplace that isn't a regular workplace

    Patricia is a property manager who looks after a large number of properties. Two mornings per week Patricia travels from home directly to different clients' properties to carry out rental inspections. She then travels to her normal workplace.

    Patricia can claim a deduction for the travel between:

    • home and different clients' properties
    • one client's property and another
    • client properties and her normal workplace.
    End of example


    Example: bulky tools – not considered bulky equipment

    Diana is a real estate salesperson who uses a laptop computer in the office and when she visits clients. She carries the computer to and from work in her car.

    As the computer isn't considered bulky equipment she can't claim a deduction for her travel costs to and from work based on transporting bulky tools and equipment.

    End of example

    For more detailed information, see:

    See also:

    Car leasing and hire-purchase payments

    The big difference between commercial leasing and hire-purchase is in the handling of tax deductions. With hire-purchase, instead of claiming the whole monthly payment as a tax deduction as you do with a lease, you claim the depreciation of the motor vehicle and any interest charged.


    Under a commercial hire-purchase agreement you don't become owner of the motor vehicle until all monies owed under the arrangement are paid. However, you can still claim a tax deduction for the depreciation on the motor vehicle as well as the interest component of the loan repayments to the extent that the motor vehicle is used for work-related purposes. That is, interest on the loan payments and depreciation up to the car limit.

    Commercial leasing

    If you take out a car lease, the lender agrees to rent the vehicle to you for a set period for an agreed amount. If the vehicle is entirely for work purposes and not a luxury car, the lease payments are fully tax deductible but you can't claim depreciation.

    If the vehicle is a luxury car, you can claim a tax deduction for the finance component of the lease payments (interest) but not for the part of the lease payments that represent repayments of principal. You can also claim a deduction for depreciation subject to the car limit.

    If you lease a car under a salary sacrifice novated lease arrangement, you can't claim a deduction for the lease payments as these expenses are incurred by your employer. You also can't claim depreciation.

    Certificate of registration

    You can claim a deduction for the cost of renewing a real estate certificate of registration held by you as an employee in respect of your employment.

    You can't claim a deduction for the cost of getting the initial certificate of registration to gain employment.

    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 personal 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, business attire worn by real estate agents.

    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, steel-capped boots, fire-resistant clothing, or boiler suits that protect conventional 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, 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: compulsory uniform with logo

    Farhad has to wear shirts his employer provides. Each shirt has his employer's company logo embroidered on it. As part of his uniform, he also has to wear black pants and black shoes.

    He can't claim the cost of buying or maintaining his black pants or shoes as they're conventional clothing.

    Farhad can claim a deduction for the cost of laundering the shirts as they are:

    • distinctive items with the employer's logo
    • compulsory for him to wear at work.
    End of example


    Example: registered with AusIndustry

    Lena is a salesperson with a large real estate company. She also works in the reception area for a number of hours each day. Reception staff wear a suit in the company's colours monogrammed with the company logo. Lena purchases the suit herself, and although it isn't compulsory for staff to wear the clothing, the employer encourages staff members to do so.

    Lena can claim a deduction for the cost of buying and maintaining the suit only if it is a non-compulsory uniform entered on the Register of approved occupational clothing. It's the employer who seeks registration for the clothing with AusIndustry.

    End of example


    Example: you can’t claim a deduction for the purchase of conventional clothing

    James is a property manager and required to comply with dress standards and wear office attire while at work. James buys several collared shirts and long pants from a department store.

    James can't claim the cost to buy or maintain these items as they are considered conventional clothing and private in nature.

    End of example

    See also:

    Decorating properties

    You can claim a deduction for the cost of decorating items used at properties, such as flowers, if you're entitled to earn a commission from the sale of the property.

    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 personal 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 Real Estate Institute. These breakfasts are held every other month to encourage new salespeople in the real estate industry to meet socially with colleagues.

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

    End of example

    For more real estate employee expenses, see:

      Last modified: 19 Feb 2021QC 24417