Common expenses A–F
Details on claiming common tradesperson expenses for:
Award transport payments (fares allowance)
Allowances you receive from your employer for transport or car expenses that are paid under an award must be included in your tax return. These allowances are assessable income.
You can claim a deduction for expenses covered by award transport payments, if the expenses are for work-related travel, and you have actually spent the money.
You will need to be able to show how you work out you claim if we request this information. You don’t need written evidence if your claim is less than the amount in the award as at 29 October 1986. If you're unsure of this amount, your union or employer can tell you.
Example: deduction allowable more than Award amount
Chandra is a house painter. He uses his car to carry his bulky tools and equipment to and from work. Chandra's employer pays him an award transport (fares) allowance of $17.88 per day. The award rate as at 29 October 1986 was $7.60 per day.
The allowance is shown on Chandra's income statement.
Chandra must declare the allowance as income in his tax return.
Chandra can claim a deduction for the transport costs he incurs travelling from home to work sites, between work sites and from work sites home.
If Chandra claims a deduction of more than $7.60 per day, he must substantiate the whole of his claim, not just the excess over $7.60 per day.
End of example
Example: no deduction for transport expenses
Michael is a carpenter permanently at a factory that manufactures kitchens. He does not transport bulky tools or equipment to work. Even though Michael is not required to leave the factory at any time in the course of his working day, his employer pays him a fares allowance. The allowance is shown on Michael's income statement at the end of the income year.
Michael can't claim a deduction for the cost of travel to and from work. It is a private expense.
End of example
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/regular 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
- 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 agreement) when you drive:
- directly between separate jobs on the same day – for example, travelling from your first job as an electrician to your second job as a TAFE teacher
- to and from an alternative workplace for the same employer on the same day – for example, driving between separate work sites for your employer
- from home directly to an alternative workplace – for example, travelling from home to meet a client at their premises which is not your regular work location.
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.
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:
- vehicle with a carrying capacity of one tonne or more (such as a ute)
- vehicle that can transport 9 passengers or more (such as a minibus).
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 aren't 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: transporting bulky tools and equipment
Matt is an electrician and is required to provide his own tools and equipment including extension ladders to perform his work duties. Due to the size of the extension ladders, they are awkward to transport, and Matt can only transport them in his ute.
His employer doesn't supply a secure tool storage area at his workplace, so he must transport his bulky tools and equipment to and from work every day.
Matt can claim a deduction for the expenses he incurs to transport them along with his other tools and equipment between his home and work because he has met the following conditions:
End of example
- his tools and equipment, including the extension ladders are essential to perform his work duties
- the extension ladders are considered bulky
- there is no secure storage at his workplace.
Example: storage is available
Claudia works as a plasterer on a large construction site that she drives to every workday. The construction site is fenced off and access is only granted by security stationed at the entrance. Each worker is provided with their own tool locker with a combination lock.
To perform her duties as a plaster she requires several tools, that combined are large and heavy. The tool locker provided has plenty of space for Claudia to store her tools, however she chooses to take her tools home every day. Although her tools, would be considered bulky, Claudia has a secure place to store them at the construction site. It is her personal choice to transport them between home and work each day.
Claudia can't a deduction for her travel between home and work.
End of example
Example: tools and transport provided
Paul's employer provides him with a van which is fully equipped with the materials and tools he needs to carry out his duties. Paul uses his own car to travel to his employer's head office where he picks up the work van. He then drives to his first job, in the van provided by his employer.
Paul can't claim a deduction for the travel between his home and work to pick up his van. These are private expenses.
End of example
Example: travelling between workplaces
Jack and Bill are carpenters employed to construct roof trusses. They work on their designs from their employer's factory and then travel to install the trusses on location in the client's home.
Jack and Bill can claim a deduction for the cost of travel between the factory and their client's houses.
They can't claim a deduction for travel between their home and the factory as this travel is to and from their regular workplace. The expenses are private.
End of example
Example: different worksites each day
Hasan is a plumber and is required to travel to several worksites each day to provide quotes to clients and work on various jobs.
Hasan can claim a deduction for his car expenses between his home and work because he has no fixed place of work and continually travels from one work site another before returning home at the end of his working day.
End of example
Example: shifting workplaces
Sidney is an electrician and uses her own vehicle to travel to several sites each day. She carries a large extension ladder on her roof rack, a tool box, reels of cable and boxes of switches to perform her work duties.
Sidney can claim a deduction for her vehicle expenses because she has shifting places of work. She can also claim a deduction because she transports bulky tools and equipment between her home and work sites.
End of example
Example: vehicle other than a car
Amal owns a vehicle with a gross vehicle mass of 2,402 kg and a kerb weight of 1,040 kg. The payload or carrying capacity weight of Amal’s vehicle is as follows:
2,402 kg − 1,040 kg = 1,362 kg
As the vehicle’s payload or carrying capacity is greater than 1,000 kg (or one tonne), Amal’s vehicle is considered to be a vehicle other than a car.
Amal can't claim using the logbook or cents per kilometre method. However, he can claim the actual vehicle expenses related to work travel.
End of example
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.
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, jeans and drill shirts worn by tradespeople or apprentices.
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 and functions to protect you from specific risks of injury or illness at work. For example, steel-capped boots, fire-resistant clothing, or overalls 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 – 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: conventional clothing
Leila, a trainee electrician, works on a building site. She wears jeans with t-shirts or long sleeve shirts at work as they are comfortable. While the jeans and shirts afford Leila some protection from skin abrasions, when handling tools and materials, they provide only limited protection from injury.
The jeans and shirts worn by Leila to work are commonly worn as conventional clothing and do not have protective features and functions designed to protect the wearer or cope with rigorous working conditions.
Leila can't claim a deduction for the cost of purchasing these items because they there are conventional clothing.
End of example
Example: protective clothing
Rafael is a painter and wears overalls when painting his client's homes. The overalls protect his conventional clothing from damage when performing his work duties.
The protective nature of the overalls means that Rafael can claim the cost of purchasing them.
End of example
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.
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. For example, a fine you receive for speeding on your way to work.
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.
For more tradesperson expenses, see:
- common expenses G–O
- common expenses P–S
- common expenses T–W