Details on claiming common agricultural worker expenses for:
- Glasses, contact lenses and anti-glare glasses
- Hiring equipment
- Insurance of tools and equipment
- Laundry and maintenance
- Licences, permits and cards
- Meal and snack expenses
- Music streaming services, CDs, audio books or podcasts
- Newspapers and other news services, magazines and professional publications
- Overtime meal expenses
You can't claim a deduction for prescription glasses or contact lenses, even if you need to wear them while working. These are private expenses.
You can claim a deduction for the cost of protective glasses if you wear them to reduce the real and likely risk of illness or injury while working. Protective glasses include anti-glare or photochromatic glasses, sunglasses, safety glasses or goggles.
You can only claim a deduction for the work-related use of the item.
Example: claiming sunglasses
Harold is a fruit picker in far north Queensland. He regularly works at more than one location each day and drives his employer's truck from job to job. He wears sunglasses to protect against the glare of the sun while driving the truck and picking fruit. He also needs to wear prescription glasses while driving, for his short-sightedness.
He buys a pair of prescription sunglasses which counter the glare during day driving. He also buys a pair of untinted prescription glasses for night driving.
Harold can claim a deduction for the prescription sunglasses as they protect his eyes from the glare of the sun. He can't claim a deduction for the untinted prescription glasses. These are a private expense as they don't provide protection from illness or injury while he is working or from his working environment.
If Harold also uses his prescription sunglasses for private purposes, he will need to work out his deduction based on the amount of work use.End of example
You can claim the costs of hiring equipment that you use for carrying out your employment duties. However, if you also use the equipment you hire for private purposes, you can only claim a deduction for the work-related use.
You can claim a deduction for the cost to insure your tools and equipment to the extent that you use them for work-related purposes.
You can claim a deduction for the cost you incur to wash, dry and iron clothing you wear at work, if it's:
- protective (for example, a hi-vis jacket)
- occupation specific and not a conventional, everyday piece of clothing such as jeans or general business attire
- a uniform either non-compulsory and registered with AusIndustry or compulsory.
This also includes laundromat and dry-cleaning expenses.
We consider that a reasonable basis for working out your laundry claim is:
- $1 per load if it only contains clothing you wear at work which falls into one of the categories above
- 50c per load if you mix personal items of clothing with work clothing from one of the categories above.
You can claim the actual costs you incurred for repairing and dry-cleaning expenses.
If your laundry claim (excluding dry-cleaning expenses) is $150 or less, you don't need to keep records but you will still need to calculate and be able to show how you worked out your claim. This isn't an automatic deduction.
Example: laundry expenses not deductible
Cassidy is an agronomist who studies sugar crops. Her employer requires her to wear a white business shirt and either a black dress, skirt or pants. She launders the clothing regularly to keep them in good condition.
As Cassidy's work clothes are plain everyday clothing items, she can't claim the cost of washing, ironing or drying these items even though she only wears them to work.End of example
Example: uniform laundry expenses
Sali works in dairy production where his employer requires him to wear a uniform they supply and heavy duty waterproof overalls. Sali can claim a deduction for cleaning his mandatory uniform.
He washes and dries the uniforms separately twice a week. As Sali works 48 weeks during the year his claim of $96 for laundry expenses is worked out as follows:
Number of claimable laundry loads per week × number of weeks × reasonable cost per load
2 × 48 × $1 = $96
As his total claim for laundry expenses is under $150 ($96), Sali isn't required to keep evidence of his laundry expenses. However, if asked, he will be required to explain how he calculated his claim.End of example
You can't claim the cost of getting your initial licence, regulatory permit, cards or certificates to get a job. For example, a heavy vehicle permit, firearm or forklift licence.
You can claim a deduction for the additional costs you incur to renew these expenses to continue to perform your work duties. For example, if you need to have a forklift licence to get your job, you can’t claim the initial cost to get it. However, you can claim the cost of renewing it during the period you are working.
Example: heavy vehicle permit
Luke is an employee on a cattle farm and as part of his work duties transports cattle to the sales each week. Luke needs a driver's licence and a heavy vehicle permit to transport the cattle.
Luke paid for his heavy vehicle permit to secure his employment on the cattle farm. He can't claim a deduction for expenses incurred to obtain employment. However, he can claim the cost of maintaining his heavy vehicle permit as it is a requirement for his ongoing employment.
Luke can't claim a deduction to renew his driver's licence because it is a private expense.End of example
You can't claim for the cost of food, drink or snacks you consume during your normal working hours, even if you receive a meal allowance. These are private expenses.
You can claim:
- overtime meal expenses, but only if you buy and eat the meal while you are performing overtime and you receive an overtime meal allowance under an industrial award
- cost of meals you incur when you are travelling overnight for the purpose of carrying out your employment duties (travel expenses)
You can't claim a deduction for the cost of music streaming services, CDs, audio books, podcasts or devices that you use at work. Even if they're used to keep you motivated or occupied at work, these items aren't essential to earning your income. They are private expenses.
The cost of newspapers, other news services and magazines are generally private expenses and not deductible.
You can claim a deduction for the cost of buying or subscribing to a professional publication, newspaper, news service or magazine if you can show:
- a direct connection between your specific work duties and the content
- the content is specific to your employment and is not general in nature.
If you use the publication for work and private purposes, you can only claim the portion related to your work-related use.
Example: magazine subscription deductible
Ian is employed as the manager of a poultry farm. He subscribes to a magazine called Australasian Poultry to keep up to date on what is happening in the industry. Ian pays $39 per year for the magazine.
Ian can claim a deduction of $39 for the magazine subscription.End of example
You can claim a deduction for the cost of a meal you buy and eat when you work overtime, if all of the following apply:
- you receive an overtime meal allowance under an industrial law, award or agreement
- the allowance is on your income statement as a separate allowance
- you include the allowance in your tax return as income.
You can't claim a deduction if the allowance is part of your salary and wages and not shown as a separate allowance on your income statement.
You generally need to get and keep written evidence, such as receipts, when you claim a deduction. However, each year we set an amount you can claim for overtime meal expenses without receipts. We call this the 'reasonable amount'. If you receive an overtime meal allowance, are claiming a deduction and spent:
- up to the reasonable amount, you don't have to get and keep receipts
- more than the reasonable amount, you must get and keep receipts for your expenses.
In all cases, you need to be able to show you spent the money and how you calculated your claim.
Example: overtime meal expenses
Ash, a tomato farmer, was required to work overtime on 10 occasions during harvest season. Ash was paid an overtime meal allowance of $33.25 each time he worked overtime. This is equivalent to the reasonable rate set by the ATO.
Ash buys a takeaway meal costing $18.00 and eats the meal during his overtime meal break each time. At the end of the income year his income statement shows he received $332 in allowances which represents the 10 occasions of overtime × $32.50.
Ash must include the allowance of $332 as income in his tax return. Ash can claim a deduction of $180 ($18 × 10 = $180) for the meals he buys and eats on overtime. This is the amount he spent on his overtime meals.
Ash doesn't need to keep receipts for his overtime meal expenses because each overtime meal cost less than the Commissioner's reasonable amounts. However, if asked, Ash will need to be able to show how he calculated his claim and that he spent the money.End of example
For more information, see TD 2022/10 Income tax: what are the reasonable travel and overtime meal allowance expense amounts for the 2022-23 income year?
For more agricultural worker expenses, see: