To claim a deduction for books, periodicals and digital information:
- You must use them in connection with performing your current work duties.
- You must work out if you can claim the cost of the item in the income year you buy it or the decline in value over its effective life.
- You must have a record of your expenses and use of the item.
When you use the items for both private and work purposes, you need to apportion your deduction. You can only claim the work-related use of the item as a deduction.
What you can't claim
You can't claim a deduction for:
- your use of the books, periodicals and digital information for private purposes
- expenses for books, periodicals and digital information that someone else supplies for your use.
You generally can't claim a deduction for:
- newspapers, news services and other news subscriptions
The cost of newspapers, news services and other news subscriptions are a private expense. If you can show there is sufficient connection between your specific employment duties and the content of the specific publication, you can claim a deduction.
- If your work-related use is incidental to your private use, you can't claim a deduction for the book, digital information service or periodical.
Books and periodicals you use for work may include:
- library subscriptions
- academic journals
- technical journals
- database subscriptions
- reference books and similar.
Digital information services you use for work may include:
- online subscriptions
- electronic material, such as e-books or e-journals – for example, midwifery journals for obstetric nurses
- other digital materials – for example, annotated legislation for lawyers.
Books, such as reference books or a professional library are generally depreciating assets which decline in value over time.
How you treat and work out your claim will depend on if it cost:
You need to apportion expenses if you use the books, periodicals and digital information for work and private purposes.
An immediate deduction is available for items that cost $300 or less, if you use them more than 50% of the time for a work purpose. You must satisfy the conditions of 4 tests to claim an immediate deduction.
You can't do this if the item is part of a set that cost more than $300, are identical or substantially identical to similar items that together cost more than $300. In this case you claim for the decline in value of the assets.
- cost more than $300
- forms part of a set that together cost more than $300
- is identical to other items that together cost more than $300.
Example: set of books
Anh works as a lawyer at a suburban firm. She discovers a series of 3 books about conveyancing that would greatly help in her work. The series is marketed as a set, and each volume builds on the knowledge of the previous one. The 3 books are a set.
The 3 books cost $600 together but can be bought separately for $200 each. Anh buys one book each month for 3 consecutive months in the same income year for a total cost of $600.
Although the cost of each book is less than $300, Anh can't claim an immediate deduction for the books, because they are a set and the cost of the set is over $300.End of example
- Periodicals include subscriptions to journals, newspapers, magazines or specific information.
- You can claim a deduction for the cost of work-related periodicals you incur in the income year you buy them.
For more information, see TD 2004/1 Income tax: are the costs of subscriptions to share market information and services and investment journals deductible under section 8-1 of the ITAA 1997?
Example: subscription used in connection with performing current work duties
Tania is an employee taxation lawyer in a large company. Tania subscribes to the Taxation in Australia journal to keep up to date with tax changes.
Tania can claim a deduction for the cost of subscribing to the journal. The content of the publication is specific to Tania's employment and there is a direct connection between her work duties and on the content of the publication.End of example
Example: subscription used partly in connection with performing current work duties
Judy is a real estate salesperson who subscribes to the local paper to keep abreast of the properties available for sale and the prices of those properties.
The real estate section only appears in the Wednesday and Saturday editions of the local paper.
Judy can claim a work-related portion of the cost of the Wednesday and Saturday newspapers.End of example
Work out your deduction for the decline in value for a depreciating asset, using our Depreciation and capital allowances tool.
You can manually calculate the decline in value of a depreciating asset using either the prime cost method or diminishing value method.
You must keep records to support your deduction for books, periodicals and digital information, such as:
- receipts for items you buy
- records that show how you work out your percentage of work-related use.
If you are claiming the decline in value of an asset over its effective life, you also need to keep records that show how you calculated decline in value.
For more information on general record keeping requirements and formats, see records you need to keep.Deductions for books, journals, periodicals, digital information, newspapers and magazines you use for work.