ato logo
Search Suggestion:

Protective items, equipment and products

Deductions for items that protect you from the real and likely risk of illness or injury while working.

Last updated 25 April 2023

Personal protective equipment (PPE)

You may be able to claim a deduction for personal protective equipment (PPE) you buy and use at work.

You must incur the expense for the protective items, equipment or products. You can't claim a deduction if your employer:

  • pays for the items
  • provides the items
  • reimburses you for the cost you incur.

To claim a deduction, you must need to use the PPE in direct connection to earning your employment income. This means:

  • you are exposed to the risk of illness or injury in the course of carrying out your work duties
  • the risk is not remote or negligible
  • in the circumstances there would be reason to expect the use of that kind of protective item
  • you use the item in the course of carrying out your work duties.

PPE includes items such as:

  • hard hats and helmets
  • safety glasses or goggles
  • earplugs
  • gloves
  • face masks or face shields
  • sanitiser
  • anti-bacterial spray.

The PPE you can claim as a deduction will depend on the nature of your employment duties.

Start of example

Example: deduction allowable for helmet and safety visor

Wiremu works on a building site. He is required to wear a helmet and safety visor on site. If he doesn't wear them, he is at risk of being injured.

There is a direct connection between the expense he incurs to buy the helmet and safety visor and the protection the items provide for him at work.

Wiremu can claim a deduction for the cost of the helmet and safety visor.

End of example

Personal protective equipment during COVID-19

During the COVID-19 pandemic, you can claim a deduction for the cost of buying a face mask to wear at work if all the following conditions are met:

  • your employment duties require you and other employees to be at your place of work
  • a face mask is not provided to you by your employer
  • you need to wear a mask because your duties bring you in close contact with clients.

To claim a deduction for other items of PPE such as gloves, sanitiser or anti-bacterial spray, your specific work duties must either:

  • require you to have physical contact or be in close proximity to clients or customers while carrying out your duties
  • involve you cleaning a premises.

This will usually be people working in the following industries:

  • medical industry (such as doctors, nurses, dentists and allied health workers)
  • cleaning industry
  • airline industry
  • hairdressing and beautician industry
  • retail, café and restaurant industry.

If you work in these industries or occupations, the risk is not remote or negligible.

To claim a deduction for PPE items, you will need to keep records, such as a receipt, to prove your claim. You also must not have been reimbursed for the expense.

If your private use of the item is no more than incidental to your protection from the risks you are exposed to while carrying out your work duties, you don't have to apportion the expense. However, if your private use is more than incidental, you can only claim a deduction for the portion of the expense that relates to your work-related use.

Start of example

Example: no deduction allowable for face masks

Kate is an employee website designer who works from home. As a result of COVID-19, she does not meet her clients face to face.

To break up her day, Kate likes to leave the house to eat her lunch and do some exercise. When she leaves the house, Kate wears a face mask. Although the face mask protects Kate from the risk of COVID-19, she is not performing work duties when she is on her lunch break or exercising.

Kate can't claim a deduction for the face masks she buys. The risk of illness from her work environment (her home) is remote. She only wears a face mask when undertaking private activities.

End of example

Sunscreen and sunhats

You can only claim a deduction for the cost of sunscreen and sunhats if:

  • your work exposes you to the effects of the sun because you are required to perform your duties for prolonged periods outdoors
  • you wear them while you are at work to protect you from that risk.

You need to apportion your expenses for sunscreen and sunhats if you use them for work and private purposes.

If a product is safe and effective as a sunscreen, it is given an Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods identification (ARTG ID) number by the Therapeutic Goods Administration. This is displayed on the product as an AUST L number.

Any product with an ARTG ID and an AUST L number on the label will be accepted as sunscreen. The AUST L number is different to the SPF number.

To find out whether a product has been given an ARTG ID, visit the Therapeutic Goods AdministrationExternal Link website.

You can't claim a deduction for a cosmetic with added sunblock protection unless it has an AUST L number.

Start of example

Example: sun protection

Jackie, a teacher, is required to attend a weekly school sports afternoon held outdoors. She buys a bottle of high-protection sunscreen, sunhat and sunglasses to wear at the sports afternoons. She doesn't wear that sunscreen at any other time.

Jackie can claim a deduction for the cost of the sunscreen, sunglasses and sunhat. If Jackie uses the sunglasses and sunhat for private purposes as well, she will have to apportion her deduction for those items.

End of example

Protective glasses and clothing

You can claim a deduction for protective clothing or protective glasses that:

  • protect you from the real and likely risk of illness or injury at work
  • directly provide a degree of protection against that risk.