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  • Common expenses A–F

    Details on claiming common tradesperson expenses for:

    Award transport payments (fares allowance)

    If you receive an allowance from your employer for transport expenses or car expenses and it's paid to you under an award, it's assessable income and must be included on your tax return.

    You can claim a deduction for expenses covered by award transport payments only if the expenses are for deductible work-related travel.

    See also:

    Car expenses

    You can't claim a deduction for the normal trips between your home and work, even if you live a long way from your usual workplace or have to work outside normal business hours. These are private expenses.

    In limited circumstances you can claim the cost of trips between home and work, such as when you carry bulky tools or equipment for work. You can claim a deduction for the cost of these trips if all of the following conditions are met:

    • The tools or equipment you carry are essential for the performance of your employment duties.
    • The equipment is bulky, meaning that because of its size or weight it is awkward to transport and can only be transported conveniently by motor vehicle.
    • There is no secure area for storing such items at your 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 can 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 to a second job with another employer
    • to and from an alternate workplace for the same employer on the same day – for example, driving between separate work sites for the same employer.

    The Work-related car expenses calculator helps calculate the amount you can claim as a deduction for car expenses.

    To claim a deduction you must keep records of your car use. You can choose between the the cents per kilometre method or logbook method to calculate your deduction.

    If you use the logbook method, you need to keep a valid logbook to help you determine 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.

    If you own a motorcycle, or a vehicle with a carrying capacity of:

    • one tonne or more – such as a ute or van
    • nine passengers or more – such as a minivan

    You can deduct the actual vehicle expenses such as fuel, oil, insurance, repairs and servicing, car loan interest, registration and depreciation. You must keep records of your expenses to show your work-related use. You can't use the cents per kilometre method for these vehicles and there is no requirement to keep a logbook however, it is the easiest way to show how you calculated your work-related use of the vehicle.

    Example: transporting bulky tools and equipment

    Matt is a tradie. His employer doesn't supply a secure tools 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 his tools and equipment between his home and work.

    End of example

    Example: storage is available

    Jocelyn works on a large project where secure storage is available for her tools. Jocelyn chooses to transport her tools to and from work every day, instead of leaving them in the secure storage provided. She therefore can't claim a deduction for transporting her tools to and from work.

    End of example

    Example: tools and transport provided

    Paul's employer provides vans for his employees. The vans are fully equipped with the materials and tools they need to carry out their duties. Paul travels by car to his employer's head office where he picks up the work van then drives to the job. Paul can't claim a deduction for the car expenses he incurs when he travels between his home and work.

    End of example

    Example: travelling between workplaces

    Jack and Bill are carpenters employed to construct roof trusses in their employer's factory and install the trusses in houses at a housing estate.

    The cost of travel between the factory and the housing estate is an allowable deduction.

    The travel between home and the factory or between home and the housing estate is travel to and from their normal work place. It's private and no deduction is allowed.

    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 works at several worksites each day.

    End of example

    Example: shifting workplaces

    Matt is an electrician who does maintenance work and uses his own vehicle. Every day he travels to several sites. He carries a large extension ladder on his roof rack, a tool box, reels of cable and boxes of switches.

    Matt can claim a deduction for his vehicle expenses because he has shifting places of work. He can also claim a deduction because he transports bulky tools and equipment between his home and the worksite.

    End of example

    Example: load carrying capacity

    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:

    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 motor vehicle claim must be made at 'Work-related travel expenses' on his tax return. Amal’s claim is limited to the actual expenses incurred to the extent that the expenses are for work purposes.

    End of example

    See also:

    Child care

    You can't claim a deduction for child care when you're working. It's a private expense.

    Clothing expenses (including footwear)

    You can claim a deduction for the cost you incur when you buy, hire, repair or replace clothing, uniforms and footwear you wear at work if it's:

    • protective clothing and footwear that provides a sufficient degree of protection against the risk of injury or illness posed by the activities you undertake to earn your income
    • occupation specific and not a conventional, everyday piece of clothing
    • a compulsory uniform that identifies you as an employee of an organisation with a strictly enforced policy that makes it compulsory for you to wear the uniform while you're at work
    • a non-compulsory uniform, if your employer has registered the design with AusIndustry.

    You can claim clothing and footwear that you wear to protect yourself from the risk of illness or injury posed by your income-earning activities or the environment in which you carry them out. To be considered protective, the items must provide a sufficient degree of protection against that risk. For example, overalls, high-vis vests and steel capped boots are protective and you can claim a deduction for these.

    Clothing in a specific colour or brand isn't enough to classify it as a uniform. For example, a shirt with the corporate logo on it that your employer strictly requires you to wear is a compulsory uniform. You can claim a deduction for buying and repairing it.

    You can't claim a deduction for the cost of buying or repairing plain clothing worn at work, even if your employer tells you to wear it. You can't claim a deduction for:

    • heavy duty conventional clothing such as jeans, drill shirts and black trousers
    • running shoes or casual shoes.

    These are private expenses.

    You can’t claim a deduction if your employer buys or mends your clothing and footwear.

    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, they provide only limited protection from injury. The items are commonly worn as conventional clothing and aren't designed to protect the wearer or cope with rigorous working conditions.

    Leila can't claim a deduction for the cost of purchasing or cleaning these items because they are private in nature.

    End of example

    Example: protective clothing

    Rafael wears steel-capped boots and a hard hat when working at the industrial park. These items aren't of a private or domestic nature and are necessary for Rafael to wear while at work.

    The protective nature of these items means that Rafael can claim a deduction for their cost.

    End of example

    See also:

    Driver's licence

    You can't claim a deduction for obtaining or renewing your driver's licence, even if you must have it as a condition of employment. This is a private expense.

    Fines

    You can't claim a deduction for any fines you get when you work. Fines may include, parking fines and speeding fines.

    First aid courses

    You can claim a deduction for the cost of first aid training courses if you, as a designated first aid person, are required to undertake first aid training to assist in emergency work situations.

    You can't claim a deduction if your employer pays for the training, or reimburses you.

    For more tradesperson expenses, see:

      Last modified: 04 May 2020QC 56093