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  • Australian Defence Force

    If you work for the Australian Defence Force 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 personal 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 a deduction when you:

    • drive between separate jobs on the same day
    • drive to and from an alternate workplace for the same employer on the same day – for example, if you are required to travel from your normal Army base to another military base to attend a fitness assessment.

    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, a military exercise held over the weekend.

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

    • the tools or equipment were essential for you to perform your employment duties and you didn't carry them merely as a matter of choice
    • the tools or equipment are bulky – meaning that because of their 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 work-related percentage, or be able to demonstrate to the ATO a reasonable calculation if you use the cents per kilometre method to claim.

    Fitness expenses

    You can only claim the cost of fitness expenses if your job requires you to maintain a fitness well above the ADF general standard. For example, if you are a physical training instructor with the Australian Special Forces.

    You can't claim a deduction for the cost of gym fees to maintain your personal fitness.

    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.

    If you are required to purchase equipment for your work and it cost more than $300, you can claim a deduction for this cost spread over a number of years (depreciation).

    If you keep a diary of your home office usage, you can calculate your claim quickly using the ATO's home office expenses calculator.

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

    Self-education expenses

    You can claim a deduction for self-education expenses if your course relates directly to your current job or to the next likely promotion as planned by the ADF.

    You can't claim a deduction if your study or seminar is only related in a general way or is designed to help you get a new job. For example, to enable you to move to a job outside the ADF.

    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:

    • technical or professional publications
    • compulsory mess subscriptions
    • union and professional association fees.

    You can’t claim a deduction for the cost of:

    • attending social functions, even though these may be compulsory
    • haircuts, grooming, weight loss programs or supplies, even though the ADF has specific regulations.

    See also:

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      Last modified: 30 Jun 2021QC 59240