Details on claiming ADF member 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 in the ADF. 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: deduction for sunglasses
Rochelle is a leading aircraftman in the Air Force. Rochelle's employment duties include piloting different types of aircraft. When she is piloting an aircraft, Rochelle requires sunglasses to protect her eyes from sun damage.
During the income year, Rochelle buys a new pair of non-polarised sunglasses with a grey tint for $260. Rochelle keeps these sunglasses in her work bag and only uses them when she is at work.
Rochelle can claim a deduction for $260 for the sunglasses she uses when she is piloting aircraft. The sunglasses protect Rochelle's eyes from the real and likely risk of sun damage while she is carrying out her employment duties.End of example
You can't claim a deduction for hairdressing, cosmetics, hair and skin care products, even though:
- you receive an allowance for grooming
- your employer expects you to be well groomed when at work.
All grooming expenses and products are private expenses.
Example: no deduction for haircuts
Pierre is a lance corporal in the Army. It is a condition of his employment to be well-groomed and to keep his hair short. To keep his hair short, Pierre goes to the hairdresser once a month to have his hair cut.
Even though it is a condition of his employment to be well-groomed and keep his hair short, Pierre can't claim a deduction for the cost of his hair cuts. The expenses are private in nature.End of example
You can claim a deduction for the cost of washing, drying and ironing clothing you wear at work if it's:
- protective (for example, a overalls)
- 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 from 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 work out your claim. This isn't an automatic deduction.
Example: deduction for dry cleaning expenses
Louis is a private in the Army. The annual cost of dry-cleaning items of his compulsory uniform is $195.
Louis can claim a deduction of $195 if he keeps records for the dry-cleaning costs.End of example
You can't claim for the cost of food, drink or snacks you consume in the course of 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).
Example: no deduction for food and drink consumed
Elsa is a corporal in the Airforce. When she is not deployed, she works at the base from Monday to Friday. Elsa brings her lunch along with some snacks to work with her each day.
Elsa can't claim a deduction for the cost of the food and drinks she brings to work with her. She consumes the meals during her normal working day, so they are private in nature.End of example
Compulsory mess subscriptions
You can claim a deduction for the part of your compulsory mess subscriptions that relates to work activities. You can obtain details of the amount paid for mess subscriptions from mess accounts your mess committee provides.
You can't claim a deduction for amounts paid for food, drink or entertainment. These expenses are private in nature.
Attendance at mess functions
You can't claim a deduction for costs incurred in attending compulsory or non- compulsory mess functions. This includes functions such as dinners, dances and cocktail parties.
It is recognised that:
- many of these functions are compulsory
- behaviour at such functions may be taken into account for promotion
- mess function etiquette is learnt by attending functions.
Expenses you may incur include food, drink and entertaining guests in an official or informal capacity. These expenses are considered to be private and not sufficiently related to the production of income. The cost of travelling to and from mess functions is also not deductible.
You can't claim a deduction for the cost of music streaming services, CDs, audio books or podcasts that you listen to while you are working. Even if you use these to relieve fatigue or keep you motivated 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: deduction for publication
Dennis is flying officer in the Air Force. His duties include flying Air Force aircraft. Dennis subscribes to Flight Safety Australia at a cost of $39 per year. Flight Safety Australia is a technical magazine published by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA).
Provided Dennis keeps written evidence of his payment, he can claim a deduction of $39 for his subscription. The magazine is specific to his employment as a flying officer in the Air Force.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 included 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 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
- how you worked out your claim.
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 ADF member expenses, see: