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ADF member expenses A–F

Details on claiming ADF member expenses.

Last updated 2 June 2024

Car expenses

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

  • live a long way from your usual or normal workplace
  • have to work outside normal business hours (for example, weekend or early morning shifts)
  • have to carry an item that is illegal to carry on public transport.

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.

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, your decision to transport items home will be a matter of choice.

You can also 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, travelling from the base to the work location of your job with a different employer
  • to and from an alternative workplace that's not a regular workplace, while you're still on duty, and back to your normal workplace or directly home
  • from home directly to an alternative workplace – for example, travelling from home to a training centre to attend a work-related training course.

You can't claim car expenses for a car you use under a salary sacrifice or novated lease arrangement. This is because it's usually your employer leasing the car from the financing company and making it available for your use. You can however claim additional work-related expenses you incur that are associated with your work use of the car such as parking and tolls.

To claim a deduction, you must keep records of your car use. You can choose between the logbook method or the cents per kilometre method to work out 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 those kilometres were work-related.

If you claim your work-related car expenses using one of the above methods, you can’t claim any further deductions in the same tax return for the same car. For example, petrol, servicing, and insurance costs.

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 9 passengers or more (such as a minibus).

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. Although you are not required to keep a logbook, it is the easiest way to calculate your work-related use of the vehicle.

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: travelling between workplaces

Amelia travels from her normal Army base to another military base that isn't her regular workplace to attend her annual medical check-up and fitness assessment. She then travels directly home. She uses her own car and her employer does not reimburse her for this travel.

As this travel is from Amelia's regular work location to an alternative work location, and from an alternative work location to Amelia's home, Amelia incurs the car expenses in the course of performing her duties. Amelia can claim a deduction for the cost of each journey.

End of example


Example: travel to alternative workplace, between workplace and from normal workplace to home

Mackenzie is a Petty Officer in the Navy. She's must travel from home to present a verbal report to her commanding officer at RAN fleet base. This isn't her regular workplace, and she will return to her regular base at HMAS Penguin after the presentation.

Mackenzie can claim a deduction for the cost of travelling from home to the fleet base and from the fleet base to HMAS Penguin. However, she can't claim a deduction for the cost of travelling home from HMAS Penguin at the end of the day as this is home to work travel and is private.

End of example


Example: transporting bulky equipment

Aaron is notified of an overseas deployment. He needs to prepare his field equipment pack for the deployment. Because of this, he's required to take home his equipment pack and return with it to the base. His field equipment pack awkward to transport due to its size and weight. The items are usually stored in a locked cage on base.

The distance from the base to his home is 15 kilometres. Aaron can claim motor vehicle expenses for his travel from the base to home and from his home back to the base while he is transporting his field equipment pack. In total, 30 kilometres can be claimed as work-related kilometres.

This is because the equipment is essential for Aaron to perform his employment duties and the equipment is considered bulky:

  • because of the size and weight, the equipment pack is awkward to transport, and
  • can only be transported conveniently by motor vehicle.

Aaron can't claim a deduction for his travel between his home and the base when he isn't required to transport his field equipment pack.

End of example


Example: transporting equipment by choice

Denise is a Private in the Army. Although there is a secure area to store her pack on base, she keeps her knapsack and sleeping bag in her car in preparation for field exercises. While the field exercises aren't regularly scheduled, she chooses to transport her pack to and from work every day.

Denise can't claim a deduction for her trips between her home and the base because her employer provides secure storage for her equipment at the base.

End of example

Child care

You can't claim a deduction for the cost of child care (including school holidays and before and after school care) when you’re working. It’s a private expense, and the expenses have no direct connection to earning your income.

Clothing and uniform expenses (including footwear)

You may be able to claim a deduction for the cost you incur when you buy, hire, repair or replace clothing, uniforms and footwear.

Compulsory uniforms

A compulsory uniform is a collection of inter-related items of clothing and accessories that is:

  • distinctive to a particular organisation
  • set out in a uniform policy which is strictly and consistently enforced.

Military service uniforms are compulsory uniforms, you can claim a deduction for items such as:

  • military white, blue or khaki shirts with rank or other embellishments
  • standard matching trousers
  • regulation jumpers and jackets
  • official mess uniform
  • hats or caps with rank or other embellishments
  • service dress shoes
  • service handbags and clutch bags
  • socks and stockings
  • camouflage shirts and trousers.

This doesn't include items or accessories of a conventional nature. For example, underwear, ordinary fashion shoes, hair accessories, or t-shirts.

You can claim a deduction for some special items that are worn with or as part of a uniform that are unconventional in nature – for example, costs for medal mounting.

Protective clothing

Protective clothing and footwear protects you from specific risks of illness or injury at work. The clothing must have protective features or functions. For example, steel-capped boots, fire-resistant clothing, or boiler suits that protect conventional clothing.

You can't claim a deduction for the cost of protective clothing your employer provides, but you can claim a deduction for the cost of additional items you purchase, such as a Navy diver's additional wetsuit not issued under a uniform code.

Conventional clothing

You can't claim a deduction for the costs you incur to buy, hire, repair or replace conventional clothing you wear to work, even if your employer tells you to wear it. 'Conventional clothing' is everyday clothing worn by people regardless of their occupation, including:

  • everyday footwear, such as dress, casual or running shoes
  • conventional hair accessories and earrings
  • clothing you wear for medical reasons, such as support stockings
  • conventional clothing that is damaged at work.

Example: conventional clothing not deductible

Austen is part of an internal protective operation that requires a certain amount of anonymity. For security reasons, Austen must wear his everyday (conventional) clothing when gathering intelligence for anti-terrorism activities.

Austen can't claim a deduction for his clothing expenses as there's no direct link between the clothing expenditure and the activities by which he earns his income.

End of example

Physical training clothing

Sports clothing such as tracksuits, shorts, and sports shoes are considered to be conventional clothing. Therefore, you can't claim a deduction for physical training sport attire. Having a unit logo on your physical training clothing doesn't make it a compulsory uniform and you can't claim a deduction for it.

If the clothing forms part of a compulsory uniform with an official monogram (such as a regimental crest) and easily identifies you as a member of the ADF, you may be able to claim a deduction. If the physical training clothing only displays your unit's logo or emblem (rather than the official monogram) it will not be part of a compulsory uniform.

Example: sports clothing while on duty not deductible

Corey is a seaman in the Navy and must take fitness training for 2 hours per day, 3 times per week, while on duty. He buys sports shorts and t-shirts which display his unit's logo and conventional sports shoes.

Corey's sports shorts and t-shirts aren't part of the traditional ADF compulsory uniform.

Corey can't claim a deduction for his sports shorts, t-shirts and sports shoes.

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 employment duties.

You can't claim a deduction if your employer pays for or reimburses you for the cost to obtain a special license or condition.

Entertainment and social functions

You can't claim a deduction for the cost of any entertainment, fundraising or social functions. This applies even if they are compulsory, non-compulsory or you discuss work matters at the event.

Entertainment and social functions include the cost of:

  • work breakfasts, lunches or dinners
  • attendance at sporting events
  • gala or social nights
  • concerts or dances
  • cocktail parties
  • other similar types of functions or events.

These are private expenses because these events don't have a direct connection to your work duties.

You also can’t claim the cost of travelling to and from functions.

Example: annual ball cost not deductible

Neville is a commander in the Navy. Each year, the Navy holds a ball for its officers. As a high-ranking officer, Neville is expected to attend the ball. Neville purchases tickets for him and his partner at a cost of $200.

Neville can't claim a deduction of $200 for the ball tickets. Although he is expected to go and the ball is only attended by Navy officers, the expense is private.

End of example

Extra regimental duties (ERD)

Extra regimental duties (ERD) are extra duties ADF members may be required to perform. For example, coaching a sporting team, organising a social function or a position on the Mess Committee. ERD are also known as service duties.

You can claim a deduction for costs incurred in performing ERD as long as the ERD activity forms part of your income-earning activities and it isn't a private or domestic expense.

Example: ERD costs

Sharon is the President of the Mess Committee. In this position it is necessary for her to attend more functions that she would normally attend. Sharon is charged for food and drink she consumes at these functions.

Sharon also buys some stationery to fulfil her role as the President of the Mess Committee.

Sharon can't claim a deduction for the cost of the food and drink she consumes at functions. It is an entertainment expense and is private in nature. However, Sharon can claim a deduction for the cost of stationery.

End of example

Fines and penalties

You can't claim a deduction for any fines or penalties you get when you travel to work or during work. Fines may include parking and speeding fines or penalties.

For more ADF member expenses, see: