If you’re a public servant, it pays to learn what you can claim.
To claim a deduction for work-related expenses:
- you must have spent the money yourself and weren’t reimbursed
- it must directly relate to earning your income
- you must have a record to prove it.
You can only claim the work-related portion of an expense. You can't claim a deduction for any part of an expense that does not directly relate to earning your income.
You can use the myDeductions tool in the ATO app to keep track of your expenses and receipts throughout the year.
You can’t claim the cost of normal trips between home and work, even if you live a long way from your usual workplace or have to work outside normal business hours – for example, having to work late to speak to a colleague in a different time zone.
You can claim the cost of using a car you own when you drive:
- directly between separate jobs on the same day – for example, from your public service job to a second job as a musician
- to and from an alternate workplace for the same employer on the same day – for example, travelling to a different office to attend a meeting.
If you claim car expenses, you can use the logbook method or the cents per kilometre method to calculate your deduction.
If you use the logbook method, you need to keep a valid logbook to 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 calculated your work-related kilometres and that those kilometres 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.
Clothing and laundry expenses (including footwear)
With a few exceptions, clothing can't be deducted as a work-related expense.
You can’t claim the cost to buy, hire, repair or clean conventional clothing you wear for work, 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 – for example, business attire worn by office workers.
Self-education and study expenses
You can claim self-education and study expenses if your course relates directly to your employment and it:
- maintains or improves the skills and knowledge you need for your current duties
- results in or is likely to result in an increase in income from your current employment.
You can’t claim a deduction if your study is only related in a general way or is designed to help get you a new job – for example, a health and wellbeing course.
You can’t claim a deduction if your employer pays for or reimburses you for these expenses.
Working from home expenses
If you work from home, you can claim a deduction for expenses you incur that relate to your work. You must:
- use one of the methods set out by us to calculate your deduction
- keep the correct records for the method you use.
You can’t claim:
- coffee, tea, milk and other general household items, even if your employer provides these at work
- items your employer provides – for example, a laptop or a phone
- any items where your employer pays for or reimburses you for the expense.
You can claim the work-related portion of other expenses if it relates to your employment, including:
- seminars, training and conferences
- technical or professional publications
- phone and internet costs, with records showing your work-related use
- union and professional association fee.
You can’t claim private expenses such as prescription glasses or contact lenses, music subscriptions, childcare or fines.
You can’t claim a deduction if the cost was met or reimbursed by your employer.
This is a general summary only. For more information, go to ato.gov.au/office or speak to a registered tax professional.
Return to Occupation guides