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  • Public servant

    If you’re a public servant, it pays to learn what you can claim at tax time.

    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. (See Note)

    You can only claim the work-related part of expenses. You can't claim a deduction for any part of the expense that relates to private use.

    Note: You can use the ATO app myDeductions tool to keep track of your expenses and receipts throughout the year.

    Car expenses

    You can claim the cost of using a car you own when you drive:

    • 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 for the same employer.

    You generally can’t claim the cost of 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.

    In limited circumstances you can claim the cost of trips between home and work, where you are required to carry bulky tools or equipment for work and all of the following conditions were met:

    • the tools or equipment are essential to perform your employment duties and you don’t carry them merely as a matter of choice
    • the tools or equipment are bulky – meaning that because of the size and weight they are awkward to transport and can only be transported conveniently by the use of a motor vehicle
    • there was no secure storage for the items at the workplace.

    If you claim car expenses, you need to keep a logbook to determine the percentage or be able to demonstrate to the ATO a reasonable calculation if you use the cents per kilometre method to claim.

    Home office expenses

    You can claim a percentage of the running costs of your home office if you have to work from home, including depreciation of office equipment, work-related phone calls and internet access charges, and electricity for heating, cooling and lighting costs.

    You generally can’t claim the cost of rates, mortgage interest, rent and insurance.

    Clothing expenses

    You can claim a deduction for the cost of buying, hiring, mending or cleaning certain uniforms that are unique and distinctive to your job – for example, clothing items you're required to wear which have a logo that is unique and distinctive to your employer – or protective clothing that your employer requires you to wear.

    You can't claim a deduction for the cost of buying or cleaning plain clothing worn at work clothing you bought to wear for work, even if your employer tells you to wear it, and even if you only wear these items for work – for example, a business suit.

    Self-education expenses

    You can claim a deduction for self-education expenses if your course relates directly to your current job, for example, human resource training for a manager.

    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.

    Other common deductible work-related expenses

    As long as the expense relates to your employment, you can claim a deduction for the work-related portion of the cost of:

    • seminars and conferences
    • technical or professional publications
    • union and professional association fee.

    See also

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      Last modified: 15 Oct 2021QC 59240