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  • Common expenses G–O

    Details on claiming common tradesperson expenses for:

    Glasses, contact lenses and anti-glare glasses

    You can't claim a deduction for prescription glasses or contact lenses, even if you need to wear them while working these are private expenses.

    You can claim a deduction for the cost of protective glasses if you wear them to reduce the real and likely risk of illness or injury while working. Protective glasses include anti-glare or photochromatic glasses, sunglasses, safety glasses or goggles.

    You can only claim a deduction for the work-related use of the item.

    Example: claiming sunglasses

    Esme works for a small electrical company in far north Queensland. She regularly works at more than one location each day and drives her employer's ute when travelling from job to job. She wears sunglasses for protection against the glare of the sun while driving the ute. She also needs to wear glasses while driving, for her short-sightedness.

    She buys a pair of prescription sunglasses which counter the glare during day driving. She also buys a pair of untinted prescription glasses for night driving.

    Esme can claim a deduction for the prescription sunglasses, but not for the untinted prescription glasses.

    End of example

    See also:

    Home office expenses

    You may be able to claim a deduction for expenses you incur as an employee working from home. These can be additional running expenses such as electricity, the decline in value of equipment or furniture, phone and internet expenses.

    You can only claim a deduction for the additional running costs you incur as a result of working from home. For example, if you work in your lounge room when others are also present, you can't claim the cost of lighting and heating or cooling. This is because there is no additional cost for those expenses as a result of working from home.

    There are some expenses you can't claim a deduction for as an employee. Employees who work at home can't claim costs:

    • for coffee, tea, milk and other general household items your employer may provide you at work
    • for your children and their education including
      • setting them up for online learning
      • teaching them at home
      • buying equipment such as iPads and desks
       
    • your employer pays for or reimburses you for the expense
    • for the decline in value of items provided by your employer – for example, a laptop or a phone.

    There are several methods you can use to work out your home office expenses. The methods you can use depend on your circumstances. You must meet the record keeping requirements and working criteria to use each method.

    You generally can’t claim occupancy expenses (rent, rates, mortgage interest and house insurance premiums), unless your home is your 'place of business'. This occurs where your home office is both:

    • your principal place of work because no other work location is provided by your employer
    • exclusively or almost exclusively used for work purposes.

    You can’t claim a deduction if your employer paid for your home office to be set up or they reimbursed you for the expense.

    The Home office expenses calculator helps you work out the amount you can claim as a deduction for home office expenses.

    See also:

    • PS LA 2001/6 Verification approaches for home office and electronic device expenses
    • TR 93/30 Income tax: deductions for home office expenses
    • PCG 2020/3 Claiming deductions for additional running expenses incurred whilst working from home due to COVID-19
    • Home office expenses

    Insurance of tools and equipment

    You can claim a deduction for the cost to insure your tools and equipment to the extent that you use them for work-related purposes.

    Laundry and maintenance

    You can claim a deduction for the cost you incur to wash, dry and iron clothing you wear at work if it's:

    • protective (for example, a hi-vis jacket)
    • occupation specific and not a conventional, everyday piece of clothing such as jeans or general business attire
    • a uniform either non-compulsory and registered with AusIndustry or compulsory.

    This also includes laundromat and dry-cleaning expenses.

    We consider that a reasonable basis for working out your laundry claim is:

    • $1 per load if it only contains clothing you wear at work from one of the categories above
    • 50c per load if you mix personal items of clothing with work clothing from one of the categories above.

    You can claim the actual costs you incurred for repairing and dry-cleaning expenses.

    If your laundry claim (excluding dry-cleaning expenses) is $150 or less, you don't need to keep records but you will still need to calculate and be able to show how you worked out your claim. This isn't an automatic deduction.

    Example: laundry expenses

    Dante is employed as a commercial painter. His employer provides him with a compulsory uniform that has the company name and logo embroidered on it.

    He washes and dries his uniforms in a separate load of washing three times a week. Dante works 40 weeks during the year. His claim of $120 for laundry expenses is worked out as follows:

    Number of claimable laundry loads per week x number of weeks = total number of claimable laundry loads

    3 × 40 = 120

    Total number of claimable laundry loads x reasonable cost per load = total claim amount

    120 × $1 = $120

    As his total claim for laundry expenses is under $150 ($120) Dante doesn't have to keep written evidence of his laundry expenses. Although Dante doesn't require evidence to prove his claim for laundry, if asked, he will still be required to explain how he calculated his claim.

    End of example

    See also:

    Licences, permits and cards

    You can't claim the cost of getting your initial licence, regulatory permit, cards or certificates in order to get a job. For example, a builder's licence.

    You can claim a deduction for the additional costs you incur to get or renew your licence, regulatory permit, card or certificate to continue to perform your work duties. For example, if you need to have a builder's licence to get your job, you can’t claim the initial cost of getting it, however you can claim the cost to renew it during the period you are working.

    Meal and snack expenses

    You can't claim for the cost of food, drink or snacks you consume during your normal working hours, even if you receive a meal allowance. These are private expenses.

    See also:

    Newspapers and other news services, magazines and professional publications

    The cost of newspapers, other news services and magazines are generally private expenses and not deductible.

    You can claim a deduction for the cost of buying or subscribing to a professional publication, newspaper, news service or magazine if you can show:

    • a direct connection between your income earning activities and the content
    • the content is specific to your employment and is not general in nature.

    If you use the publication for work and private purposes, you can only claim the portion related to your work-related use.

    Overtime meal expenses

    You can claim a deduction for the cost of a meal you buy and eat when you work overtime, if all of the following apply:

    • you receive an overtime meal allowance under an industrial law, award or agreement
    • the allowance is on your income statement as a separate allowance
    • you include the allowance in your tax return as income.

    You can't claim a deduction if the allowance is part of your salary and wages and not included as a separate allowance on your income statement.

    You generally need to get and keep written evidence, such as receipts, when you claim a deduction. However, each year we set an amount you can claim for overtime meal expenses without receipts. This is called the 'reasonable amount'. If you receive an overtime meal allowance, are claiming a deduction and spent:

    • up to the reasonable amount, you don't have to get and keep receipts
    • more than the reasonable amount, you must get and keep receipts for all your expenses.

    In all cases, you need to be able to show:

    • you spent the money
    • how you worked out your claim.

    Example: overtime meal expenses

    Ash is a painter and was employed to paint a shopping centre. He was required to work overtime on 15 occasions. Ash was paid an overtime meal allowance of $30.60 for each occasion he worked overtime.

    Ash spent $12.00 on a takeaway meal each occasion he worked overtime. At the end of the income year his income statement showed he received $459 in allowances which represented the 15 occasions he worked overtime × $30.60 the amount he received per occasion.

    In his tax return, Ash correctly declared the $459 allowance and claimed a deduction of $12.00 × 15 = $180. This is the amount he had actually spent on his overtime meals.

    The amount Ash is claiming as a deduction is less than the Commissioner's reasonable amount so Ash doesn't have to keep written evidence. However, he will need to be able to show how he calculated his deduction and that he spent the money

    End of example

    See also:

    • Overtime meals
    • TD 2020/5 Income tax: what are the reasonable travel and overtime meal allowance expense amounts for the 2020-21 income year?

    For more tradesperson expenses, see:

      Last modified: 22 Feb 2021QC 56093