You can claim a deduction for phone, data and internet costs if you use your own phone or electronic devices for work purposes.
If your phone, data and internet use for work is incidental and you're not claiming more than $50 in total, you do not need to keep records.
If you claim more than $50, you need to keep records to show your work use. For example, an itemised bill where you can identify your work-related phone calls and data use.
You can’t claim a deduction if your employer:
- provides you with a phone for work and pays for your usage
- reimburses you for the costs you incur.
You can't claim a deduction for any phone calls to family and friends, even while travelling for work. This is because they are personal phone calls.
For more information, see:
Example: calculating phone expenses
George is an agricultural engineer who works with farmers to improve their farming equipment and designing dams. He uses his personal mobile phone for work purposes (mostly outgoing phone calls) when he is onsite. He's on a set mobile phone plan of $49 each month and rarely exceeds the plan cap.
He receives an itemised account from his phone provider each month by email, which includes details of his individual phone calls.
George regularly prints his monthly phone accounts and for one month he highlights his work-related phone calls. He also makes notes on the highlighted itemised account about who he has phoned – for example, his manager, colleagues and clients.
Out of the 400 phone calls he had made in a 4 week-period, George works out that 228 (57%) of the individual phone call expenses billed to him are for work and applies that percentage to his cap amount of $49 a month. He works out his phone calls for work purposes as follows:
Total work phone calls ÷ total number of phone calls = work use percentage for phone calls:
228 ÷ 400 = 57%
George can claim 57% of the total bill of $49 for each month for work purposes:
$49 × 0.57 = $27.93
Since George was only at work for 46 weeks of that year (10.6 months), he calculates his work-related mobile phone expense deduction as follows:
10.6 months × $27.93 = $296End of example
Example: work and private use
Sylvette is a plant biologist who uses her computer and personal internet account at home to access her work emails and manage her appointments. Sylvette also uses her computer and the internet for private purposes.
Sylvette keeps a diary for a 4-week period, recording the times she used the internet for work and private purposes. Sylvette's internet use diary showed 10% of the time she spent using the internet was for work-related activities and 90% was for private use. As her internet service provider charge for the year was $1,200 she can claim:
$1,200 × 10% = $120 as work-related internet use.
If anyone else in Sylvette's household accesses the internet connection, Sylvette must reduce her claim to account for their use.End of example
You can claim a deduction for the cost of protective items if you wear them to protect yourself from the real and likely risk of injury or illness that you are exposed to in in your work environment, or while performing your work duties. To be considered protective, the item must provide a sufficient degree of protection against the risks of illness or injury you are exposed to in carrying out your work duties. Protective items can include safety glasses, helmets and breathing masks.
For example, a cattle farmer can claim a deduction for the cost of gloves and steel-capped boots.
You can also claim the costs you incur to repair, replace or clean protective items.
You can't claim a deduction if your employer:
- supplies the protective items
- reimburses you for the cost you incur to buy protective items.
Example: protective items
Fred is an employee assistant farmhand who works in hay production. He is required to wear safety glasses, a breathing mask and a safety visor on the farm. If he doesn't wear them, he is at risk of being injured. There is a clear connection between the need for these protective items and Fred's employment duties.
The protective items are provided by Fred's employer and if he was to buy his own equipment his employer would reimburse him for these costs.
Fred can't claim a deduction for the safety glasses, breathing mask and safety visor as he doesn't incur any costs or his costs are reimbursed.End of example
You can’t claim a deduction for the cost to transfer or relocate to a new work location. This is the case whether the move is a condition of your existing job or you are taking up a new job.
You can claim a deduction for repairs to tools and equipment you use for work. If you also use them for private purposes, you can only claim an amount for your work-related use.
Example: repair of work-related tool
John is an employee crop farm worker and uses a variety of tree pruning tools in his job.
One of his tools breaks and John is required to pay $50 to repair it. John is not reimbursed for the repair costs and he only uses the tree pruner for work-related purposes.
John can claim a deduction for the costs he incurs to repair the tree pruner, as he:
- regularly uses this piece of equipment in his job as a crop farm worker
- was not reimbursed for the expense he incurred.
You can claim a deduction for self-education expenses if they directly relate to your employment as an agricultural worker and at the time you incur the expense it:
- maintains or improves the skills and knowledge you need for your current duties
- results in or is likely to result in an increase in your income from your current employment.
You can't claim a deduction for a self-education expense if at the time you incur the expense, it:
- doesn't have a connection with your current employment
- only relates in a general way to your current employment
- enables you to get employment or change employment.
If your self-education expenses are deductible, you can claim expenses such as course or tuition fees, student and amenities fees, textbooks, academic journals and stationery expenses. You will also be able to claim a deduction for the decline in value of any depreciating assets which cost more than $300 that you use for your work-related study.
You can't claim a deduction for the repayments you make on your study and training support loans. Study and training support loans include:
- Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) (FEE-HELP and HECS-HELP)
- VET Student Loans (VETSL)
- Trade Support Loan Program (TSL)
- Student Financial Supplement Scheme (SFSS)
- Student Start-up Loan (SSL).
While course or tuition fees may be deductible, fees you incur under the Higher Education Contribution Scheme Higher Education Loan Program (HECS-HELP) scheme are not deductible.
Example: self-education related to income-earning activities
Doug is studying biochemistry while working as a machinery operator for a cotton farm. He is offered a biochemist crop consultant role with the farm on an understanding that he will continue his studies.
Doug can't claim his study expenses while employed as a machinery operator. He can however, claim his study expenses from the point he was employed as a crop consultant.End of example
Example: self-education resulting in increased income
Dan is a currently working as an employee in livestock production. He wants to become a livestock production specialist as the pay rate is higher and there is a specialist job opportunity available with his current employer. Dan enrols in a Diploma of Agriculture at his local university.
Dan can claim a deduction for the costs he incurs in completing his self-education course. This is because it will lead to an increase in income from his current employment.End of example
Example: study not relevant to current duties
Kaitlin is a shearer. She decides she would like to increase her knowledge about irrigation management and enrols in an irrigation management course.
Kaitlin can't claim a deduction for her self-education expenses as the irrigation management course isn't relevant to her current employment as a shearer.End of example
You can claim a deduction for the cost of seminars, conferences and training courses that relate to your work as an agricultural worker.
The costs you can claim include fares to attend the venue where the seminar, conference or training course is held and registration costs. If you need to travel and stay away from home overnight to attend such an event, you can also claim the cost of accommodation and meals.
You may not be able to claim all of your expenses if attending a seminar, conference or training course is for both work-related and private purposes. If the private purpose is incidental, such as a catered lunch or a reception for delegates, you can still claim all your expenses. However, if the main purpose is not work-related, such as attending a conference while on a holiday, you can only claim the direct costs. Direct costs include the registration costs.
Where you have a dual purpose for attending the seminar, conference or training course, for example, you add a holiday of one week to a training course that runs for one week, then you can only claim the work-related portion.
Example: attending a conference
Zachary is a plant propagation manager for a nursery. As a part of his role, Zachery is required to manage the preparation and planting of tissue cultures and cuttings for propagation. He attends the National Nursery & Garden Conference each year to learn about new propagation techniques, products and equipment that he can use in the nursery operation.
Zachary can claim a deduction for the cost he incurs attending the conference as he is maintaining or increasing the knowledge and skills he needs to earn his income in his current employment.End of example
You can claim a deduction for the work-related use of sunglasses, sunhats and sunscreen if you:
- must work outdoors in the sun for prolonged periods
- use these items to protect you from the real and likely risk of illness or injury while at work.
This includes prescription sunglasses and anti-glare glasses.
You can only claim a deduction for the work-related use of the products if you also wear them for private purposes.
Example: claiming sunglasses
Hal is an employee fruit picker. He regularly works at more than one location each day and drives his employer's truck from job to job. Hal buys a broad brimmed hat, SPF 50 sunscreen and sunglasses to protect himself from the sun while he is picking fruit in the orchards. He also wears the sunglasses when he is driving the truck to protect his eyes from the glare of the sun. Hal only wears his hat and sunscreen while he is working but he wears his sunglasses on the weekend as well.
Hal can claim a deduction for the cost of the broad brimmed hat he purchased and the sunscreen that he buys during the income year. These items protect Hal from the risk of illness while he is carrying out his work duties.
Hal can also claim a deduction for the sunglasses he buys because they protect his eyes from the glare of the sun while he is working and driving.
As Hal also uses his sunglasses for private purposes, he will have to apportion his deduction to account for his private use.End of example
For more agricultural worker expenses, see: