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  • Common expenses P–S

    Details on claiming common tradesperson expenses for:

    Parking fees and tolls

    You can claim a deduction for parking fees and tolls on work-related trips between two separate places of work.

    You may not have to get and keep written evidence for these expenses if they are small or hard to get, for example, if you pay cash in a roadside parking meter.

    You can't get a deduction for parking at or near a regular place of employment. This is a private expense.

    Phone and internet expenses

    You can claim a deduction for the phone and internet costs associated with the work-related use of your own phone or electronic devices.

    You need to keep records to show your work use if you claim more than $50 on phone and internet expenses.

    You can’t claim a deduction if your employer provides you with a phone for work and pays for the usage, or if your employer reimburses you for the costs.

    You can't claim a deduction for any phone calls to family and friends, even while you're travelling for work. This is because they aren't work-related calls.

    Example: records of phone expenses

    Daniel uses his mobile phone for work purposes. He is on a set plan of $49 each month and rarely exceeds the plan cap.

    Daniel receives an itemised account from his phone provider each month.

    At least once a year, Daniel prints his account and highlights the his work-related calls he made. He also makes notes on his account for the first month about who he is calling for work, such as his manager and his clients.

    Of the 300 calls he made in a four-week period, Daniel works out 30 (10%) of the calls are for work. He applies that percentage to his cap amount of $49 a month.

    Daniel calculates his calls for work purposes as follows:

    Total work calls ÷ Total number of calls = Work use percentage for calls (30 ÷ 300 = 10%)

    Daniel can claim 10% of the total bill of $49 for each month for work purposes ($49 × 0.10 = $4.90)

    Since Daniel was only at work for 46 weeks of the year (10.6 months), he calculates his work-related mobile phone expense deduction as follows:

    10.6 months × $4.90 = $51.94

    End of example

    See also:

    Protective items

    You can claim a deduction for the cost of protective items such as safety glasses and protective footwear.

    To be considered protective, the item must provide a sufficient degree of protection against the risks of illness or injury you are exposed to in carrying out your work duties.

    You can't claim a deduction if the protective item is supplied by your employer or another person. You also can't claim a deduction if you are reimbursed for the cost you incur to buy the protective item.

    See also:

    Repairs to tools and equipment

    You can claim a deduction for repairs to tools and equipment you use for work. If you also use them for private purposes, you can only claim the work-related portion.

    Self-education and study expenses

    You can claim a deduction for self-education and study expenses if it's directly related to your current employment as a tradesperson or apprentice and it:

    • maintains or improves the skills and knowledge you need for your current duties – for example, an apprenticeship course
    • results in or is likely to result in an increase in your income from your current employment.

    You can't claim a deduction if the self-education or study course:

    • doesn't have a connection with your current employment
    • only relates in a general way to your current employment or profession
    • enables you to get employment or change employment.

    For example, if you're an apprentice carpenter you can't claim the cost of study that will enable you to become a builder.

    You can't claim a deduction of your employer pays your apprenticeship course fees outright, or reimburses you upon completion of your course.

    Self-education expenses include fees, travel expenses (for example, attending a lecture interstate), transport costs, books and equipment. You can claim a deduction for the cost of travel from:

    • your home to your place of education and back
    • your workplace to your place of education and back

    You must keep a record of your travel expenses to be able to claim a deduction.

    You usually have to reduce your self-education expenses by $250 – that is, the first $250 of expenses for self-education aren't deductible.

    Example: reducing your self-education claim

    Danh incurs self-education expenses totalling $1,650 in connection with his apprenticeship course at a technical college.

    Some of Danh’s self-education expenses fall under the category that requires Danh to reduce his claim by $250. He reduces his claim by $250 and is then allowed a deduction for $1,400.

    End of example

    Example: self-education expenses that can't be claimed

    David is studying carpentry while working as a timber salesperson. He is offered a new position supervising the assembly of timber frames on an understanding that he will continue his studies.

    David can't claim deductions for his study expenses while employed as a salesperson. He can claim deductions for his study expenses while employed as a framing supervisor.

    End of example

    See also:

    Self-education and study and training support loans

    You can't claim the repayment of loans you receive to help pay for your self-education or study expenses. This includes:

    • Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) loans
    • VET Student Loans (VSL)
    • the Student Financial Supplement Scheme (SFSS)
    • Student Start-up Loan (SSL)
    • The Trade Support Loan (TSL) Program.

    You may be able to claim a deduction for course or tuition fees where the self-education expenses are directly related to your current employment as a tradesperson or apprentice.

    See also:

    Seminars, conferences and training courses

    You can claim for the cost of seminars, conferences and training courses that relate to your work as a tradesperson.

    Example: conference expenses reimbursed

    Harriette is employed as a qualified electrician. Her employer intermittently requires her to attend conferences in order to keep up to date with developments in her field. Harriette’s employer pays for her travel, accommodation, meals and incidental expenses.

    Harriette can't claim a deduction for any of these expenses as she didn't incur the costs.

    End of example

    Example: deductible self-education expenses

    Rohan is employed as a carpenter. His employer sent him to a trade show to showcase the company’s new range of cabinetry. His employer paid for his flights and accommodation and provided a travel allowance for his breakfast, lunch and dinner.

    The allowance is a bona fide travel allowance and as a result, Rohan isn't required to keep receipts. He can also claim a deduction up to the Commissioner’s reasonable amount for breakfast, lunch and dinner if he has:

    • actually incurred the meal expenses
    • reported the allowance in his tax return.

    Rohan can't claim the cost of his flights and accommodation as he has not incurred these expenses.

    In some instances you may not need receipts, but you will still need to be able to show you spent the money and how you calculated your claim

    End of example

    Sunglasses, sunhats and sunscreen

    You can claim a deduction for the cost of sunscreen or a sunhat if wearing it:

    • has the necessary connection with earning your employment income
    • protects you from the risk of illness or injury at work because your employment duties require you to spend prolonged periods outdoors.

    You can claim a deduction for the cost of sunglasses or anti-glare glasses if you wear them to reduce the risk of illness or injury while working as a tradesperson or apprentice. This includes prescription sunglasses and anti-glare glasses.

    If you also wear them for private purposes, you can only claim a deduction for the work-related portion.

    Example: claiming sunglasses

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

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

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

    End of example

    See also:

    For more tradesperson expenses, see:

      Last modified: 04 May 2020QC 56093