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  • Common expenses A–F

    Details on claiming common teacher and education professional expenses for:

    Books, journals and professional library

    You can claim a deduction for the total cost of a publication you buy (including technical journals and reference books) if:

    • it cost less than $300
    • you use the publication mainly for work-related purposes, that is more than half of the time for work purposes
    • the publication isn't part of a set you start to hold in that income year where the total set costs more than $300
    • the item isn't one of a number of identical or substantially identical items that together cost more than $300.

    Items are generally considered to be part of a set if all of the following factors are met. They are:

    • interdependent
    • marketed as a set
    • designed and intended for use together.

    If you subscribe and pay for a publication in advance for more than one year, you must divide the cost equally over the whole subscription period.

    You can claim the decline in value of your professional library over its effective life, if:

    • each individual item cost more than $300
    • the item is part of a set or a number of items that are identical or substantially identical which cost more than $300.

    Example: claiming decline in value of an item that cost more than $300

    Marie is an accounting lecturer. She buys an accounting book costing $350 to add to her professional library.

    Marie can’t claim a deduction for the full cost of the book. This is because the total cost to be added to her professional library is more than $300. Instead, she must claim the decline in value of the book over the effective life of her professional library.

    End of example

     

    Example: claiming decline in value of a set

    Paula is a university lecturer. During the income year she buys a series of six English literature books. Each book cost $65. The books are designed so students move on to the next book only when they have successfully completed the previous one. The books are marketed as a set and are designed to be used together.

    Paula can't claim an outright deduction for the full purchase price of any of these books because:

    • each book forms part of a set, that she buys in the income year
    • the total cost of the set was more than $300.

    Instead, she must claim the decline in value on the books over the effective life of her professional library.

    End of example

    See also:

    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
      • 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 school to a separate job as a waiter
    • to and from an alternate workplace for the same employer on the same day – for example, if you regularly work at many places each day before returning home.

    You can claim a deduction for the cost of using your car to transport students – for example, to and from a sporting venue.

    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 cents per kilometre method or the logbook 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 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: using your car to transport students

    As part of his coaching duties, Jeremy collects several students and transports them from their homes to the sporting field on a Saturday. After the match, he returns the players to their homes and continues his journey home.

    Jeremy can claim a deduction because he's transporting students to the sporting venue.

    End of example

     

    Example: transporting equipment

    Kim is a tutor and researcher for a university. She travels between home and work each day, transporting materials she uses at work. These materials are contained in three very large, heavy boxes and can't be stored at the university because they have no secure storage area.

    Due to their bulky nature, Kim can claim a deduction for the costs she incurs when she transports the materials in her car.

    End of example

     

    Example: choosing to transport bulky equipment

    Ramona chooses to takes her student’s books home to mark. She can’t claim the travel costs for taking the books home because the travel is private travel between her regular place of employment and her home.

    End of example

     

    Example: travelling between two jobs

    April travels directly from the school where she's employed as a teacher to the TAFE college where she gives night lectures. She can claim a deduction for the travel expenses she incurs because she travels directly from one workplace to the other.

    April uses the myDeductions tool in the ATO app to record her trips in the digital logbook so that she has an accurate record of the kilometres travelled in the financial year. She uploads this information to her tax return when she is ready to lodge.

    End of example

     

    Example: travelling from work to an alternative workplace that isn't a regular workplace then home

    Wayne travels from his normal school to a regional administrative centre for a meeting. After the meeting, he travels directly home.

    Wayne can claim a deduction for the expenses he incurs because he has travelled to an alternative workplace and then home.

    End of example

     

    Example: travelling from home to an alternative workplace that isn't a regular workplace then to work

    Zareb travels from home to a marking centre to mark exams. He then travels to his normal school.

    Zareb can claim a deduction for the expenses he incurs to travel from home to the marking centre and then to his normal school. However, he can't claim a deduction for the expenses he incurs to travel directly from his normal place of employment home.

    End of example

     

    Example: travel between home and work more than once a day

    Amanda finishes work and returns home at the end of the school day. At 6.00pm, she returns to school to hold parent-teacher meetings until 9.00pm. Amanda's after-hours travel between her home and the school is a private expense she can't claim.

    End of example

     

    Example: on call or relief teaching

    Michael is a stand-by relief teacher who works at various schools. He is usually informed of which schools he'll be working at on short notice. The schools are located varying distances from home. Each day, Michael travels to a single school and returns home each night.

    Even though Michael travels from home to the particular school in response to a phone call, his travel is still a private expense he can't claim.

    End of example

     

    Example: working outside normal business hours

    Kyoko goes to work the week before the school term starts to prepare for her year 12 geography class. Although Kyoko has travelled to work during her holidays, the travel expense she incurs is a private expense she can't claim.

    End of example

     

    Example: Salary sacrifice car under a novated lease

    Amy uses a salary sacrifice arrangement through her employer for a car under a novated lease. She drives to her office every day as well as using her car to attend meetings at a different office most days.

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

    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, business attire worn by teachers.

    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: buying clothing to keep warm at work

    To keep warm whilst supervising students in the playground, Tam buys a hoodie from a retail outlet in the school colours. Tam can’t claim a deduction for the hoodie (regardless of the colour) as the need to keep warm is a personal requirement.

    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.

    Excursions, school trips and camps

    You can claim a deduction for costs incurred when taking students on excursions, camps, educational and sporting trips if these trips have an educational benefit related to the curriculum or extracurricular activities of the school.

    For example, a science teacher, accompanying students on a camp to study the ecology of the rainforest.

    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.

    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) 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’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.

    For more teachers and education professionals' expenses, see:

      Last modified: 18 Feb 2021QC 22569