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Apprentice and trainee expenses A–K

Last updated 2 June 2023

Car expenses

You can't claim car expenses as a deduction for normal trips between your home and work. These are private expenses, even if you:

  • live a long way from your usual workplace
  • have to work outside normal business hours – for example, weekend or early morning shifts.

Example: normal trip between home and work

Tim is an apprentice chef and his shifts often finish late into the night. The only available bus doesn't operate past 7:00 pm, so Tim drives to and from work.

The car expenses Tim incurs to drive between his home and work are not deductible. This is because Tim incurs the expenses to put him in the position to earn his income. These are private expenses.

End of example

In limited circumstances, you can claim the cost of trips between home and work, such as where you carry bulky tools or equipment for work or where you had shifting places of employment. That is, you don't have a fixed workplace and you continually travel from one work site to another during your workday.

To claim a deduction for the cost of trips between home and work while carrying bulky tools or equipment, all the following conditions must be met:

  • the tools or equipment are essential to perform your employment duties
  • the tools or equipment are bulky, meaning that  
    • because of the size and weight, they are awkward to transport
    • they can only be transported conveniently using a motor vehicle
  • there is no secure storage for such items at the workplace.

It will not be sufficient if you transport the tools or equipment merely as a matter of choice – for example, if your employer provides secure storage and you choose to take your tools home instead.

You can claim a deduction for the cost of using a car you own, lease or hire (under a hire-purchase agreement) when you drive:

  • directly between separate jobs on the same day – for example, from your first job as a plumbing apprentice directly to your second job as a security guard
  • to and from an alternate workplace for the same employer on the same day – for example, travelling between depots or work sites.
  • from home directly to an alternative workplace that isn't a regular place you perform your duties – for example, travelling from home to meet a client at their premises.

You can use either the logbook method or the cents per kilometre method to calculate your deduction.

If you use the logbook method, you need to keep a valid logbook to help you work out the percentage of work-related use along with written evidence of your car expenses.

If you use the cents per kilometre method, you need to be able to show how you work out your work-related kilometres. You must be able to show that the kilometres travelled were work-related.

The cents per kilometre method covers all expenses that you incur when using your car for work-related purposes. You can't claim any additional expenses for your car as a deduction.

To claim a deduction in your tax return, include the amount of your claim at Work-related car expenses. The Work-related car expenses calculator can help you work out the amount you can claim as a deduction.

You can't use the cents per kilometre or logbook methods to work out your claim for a:

  • motorcycle
  • vehicle with a carrying capacity of one tonne or more (such as a ute)
  • vehicle that can transport nine passengers or more (such as a panel van).

For these vehicles, you can claim the actual expenses you incur for your work-related travel. This includes costs such as fuel, oil, insurance and loan interest along with the decline in value of the vehicle. You must keep receipts for all your expenses and records to show your work-related use of the vehicle. The easiest way to do this is to keep a logbook or documents that provide similar details to a logbook.

To claim a deduction for actual expenses you incur for a vehicle not defined as a car, include the amount at Work-related travel expenses.

Example: travel to an alternative workplace

Brock is a trainee accountant. He usually works in his employer's Melbourne city office but occasionally he is required to attend the office in Box Hill to assist one of the senior accountants.

Brock can claim a deduction for the car expenses he incurs to drive to the office at Box Hill as it is an alternative workplace.

Brock can't claim a deduction for the car expenses he incurs for driving between his home to the Melbourne city office as that is his regular workplace.

End of example


Example: travel to regular workplace carrying bulky equipment by choice

Merinda works as an apprentice fitter and turner on a mine site. She drives to the mine site each workday. Her work depot is surrounded by a fence and people need to come through a security gate to get onto the premises. There is a building supplied for staff to store their tools when not on duty. The staff have their own personal tool lockers which have combination locks.

Merinda requires several tools to do her job, so her toolkit is large and heavy. Although there is room to store the toolkit in her locker, she takes it home every day.

Merinda's tools are bulky, but Merinda has a secure place to store them at the work depot. It is her personal decision to transport them between home and work each day. There is no practical need to transport bulky tools between home and her regular workplace so her daily trips are private.

Merinda can't claim a deduction for the car expenses she incurs driving between her home and work each day.

End of example


Example: shifting places of employment (itinerant work)

Mitchell works as an apprentice roof tiler and is sent to various sites each day. He travels to the first location from his home and returns home at the end of the day from the last worksite.

Mitchell is carrying out itinerant work as he is travelling directly between different sites all day. He can claim a deduction for the car expenses he incurs when he travels between home and work each day. Mitchell can also claim car expenses he incurs for the trips between each site during the day.

However, if Mitchell only attends one site and works there for several days until the job is complete, he would not be carrying out itinerant work.

End of example


Example: actual work-related expenses for ute

Samid is an apprentice plumber. He buys a ute (with a carrying capacity of one tonne or more) to travel around to worksites each day.

Samid also uses his ute when he is not working so he decides to keep a logbook to work out his work-related use.

Samid's logbook shows he travelled a total of 25,855 km in his ute for the whole income year. During the 12-week period he kept his logbook, he travelled 6,340 km in total with 4,972 km being work-related.

Samid keeps receipts for his expenses (totalling $10,805), these were for:

  • Fuel and oil $4,060
  • Repairs $855
  • Registration $640
  • Decline in value $5,250

Samid calculates his work use as 4,972 km ÷ 6,340 km = 0.78 (that is 78%).

He multiplies that work use percentage by his total expenses to get his deduction of $10,805 × 0.78% = $8,428.

He claims this deduction at work-related travel expenses in his tax return.

If Samid's ute had a carrying capacity of less than one tonne and he wanted to use the logbook method to claim the work-related use of his total expenses, he would have to keep a valid logbook along with receipts of all his expenses. His deduction would be claimed at work-related car expenses in his tax return.

End of example

Clothing and uniform expenses (including footwear)

With a few exceptions, clothing can't be deducted as a work-related expense.

You can't claim the cost to buy, hire, repair or replace conventional clothing (including footwear), even if:

  • your employer requires you to wear it
  • you only wear these items of clothing at work.

'Conventional clothing' is everyday clothing worn by people – for example, drill shorts and shirts worn by tradespeople or black pants worn by hairdressers.

You can claim a deduction for costs you incur to buy, hire, repair or replace clothing, you wear at work if it's in one of the following categories:

  • protective – clothing that has protective features and functions which you wear to protect you from specific risks of injury or illness at work – for example, steel-capped boots, or hi-vis clothing. Conventional clothes you wear at work are not regarded as protective clothing if they lack protective qualities designed for the risks of your work. This includes drill shorts and shirts, socks or closed shoes such as sneakers.
  • occupation specific – clothing that distinctively identifies you as a person associated with a particular profession, trade, vocation, occupation or calling – for example, a chef's chequered pants. Items traditionally worn in a profession are not occupation-specific where the clothing is worn by multiple professions.
  • a compulsory uniform – clothing your employer explicitly requires you to wear by a workplace agreement or policy, which is strictly and consistently enforced and sufficiently distinct for your organisation – for example, a shirt with your employer's logo on it that must be worn whenever you are working
  • a non-compulsory uniform – clothing that your employer registers on the Register of Approved Occupational Clothing with AusIndustry – for example a jacket with your employer's logo on it that is registered and you are encouraged to wear but don't have to.

You can’t claim a deduction if your employer buys, repairs or replaces your clothing or reimburses you for these expenses.

Example: difference between conventional clothing and protective clothing

Ryan starts work as an apprentice on a building site and wears cotton drill pants and shirt to work every day. He wears them as they are comfortable to work in and, although they aren't very durable, they provide some protection. Ryan only wears them when he is working.

Ryan can't claim a deduction for the expense of buying the drill pants and shirts. The clothing only provides very limited protection from injury and they are mostly fulfilling the private need of having to wear clothing.

After a couple of weeks on the site, Ryan notices he is getting sunburnt through his shirt and that his pants are getting ripped and exposing his legs to potential harm. He buys some UPF50+ work shirts and some heavy-duty abrasion-resistant work trousers and starts wearing them to work instead.

Ryan can claim a deduction for the cost of the UPF50+ work shirts and heavy-duty abrasion-resistant trousers as they are protecting him from harm at work.

End of example


Example: difference between occupation specific clothing and conventional clothing

Joe is an apprentice chef with 2 jobs. When working at a restaurant he wears the traditional chef's uniform of chequered pants, white jacket and chef's toque. He also works on a food truck, but just wears jeans and a t-shirt at that job.

Joe can claim a deduction for the cost of his traditional chef's uniform, but not for the clothes he wears when he is working on the food truck. The chef's clothing is occupation specific clothing as it is particular and relevant to his profession, but the jeans and t-shirt are conventional clothes.

End of example

Drivers licence

You can't claim a deduction for the cost to get or renew your drivers licence, even if you must have it as a condition of employment. This is a private expense.

You can claim a deduction for additional costs you incur to get a special licence or condition on your licence to perform your work duties. For example, the cost you incur to get a heavy vehicle permit.

Example: special licence deductible

Rhonda is a trainee on a sugar cane farm. Rhonda must operate heavy machinery to carry out her employment duties. To operate some of the machinery she needs a drivers licence and a heavy vehicle permit. Her driver's licence renewal costs her $45 per year and it costs $73 to apply for the heavy vehicle permit.

The $45 to renew her licence is not deductible because it is a private expense. The cost of the heavy vehicle permit ($73) is deductible as it is an additional expense she incurs which directly relates to her employment duties and is not a private expense.

End of example

Fines and penalties

You can't claim a deduction for any fines and penalties you get when you travel to work or during work. Fines may include parking and speeding fines or penalties. For example, a fine you receive for speeding on your way to work.

Example: parking fine not deductible

Warren is a trainee engineer. Warren's employment duties often require him to drive from the office to various building sites.

On a couple of occasions when Warren has been running late, he has parked in a loading zone instead of finding a paid car park near the site and received a parking fine.

Warren can't claim a deduction for the parking fines. It does not matter that Warren is working at the time he is issued with the fine.

End of example

First aid courses

You can claim a deduction for the cost of first aid training courses if you are both:

  • a designated first aid person
  • need to complete a first aid training course to assist in emergency work situations.

You can't claim a deduction if your employer pays for or reimburses you for the cost of the course.

For more apprentice and trainee expenses, see