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ADF member expenses P–S

Details on claiming ADF member expenses.

Last updated 2 June 2024

Parking fees and tolls

You can claim a deduction for the cost of parking fees or tolls you incur while you are travelling in the course of carrying out your employment duties – for example, travelling between bases.

If the ADF directly pays for or reimburses you for the expenses, you can't claim a deduction.

Phone, data and internet expenses

You can claim a deduction for phone, data and internet costs for the work-related use of your own phone or electronic devices.

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 these are personal phone calls.

If all or part of your work-related phone, data and internet expenses are incurred as a result of working from home and you use the fixed rate method to claim your working from home deductions, you can't claim a separate deduction for these expenses.

For more information, see:

Example: calculating phone expenses

Sebastian is a Major in the Army. He uses his mobile phone for work purposes. He is on a set plan of $49 a month.

Sebastian receives an itemised account from his phone provider each month by email that includes details of the individual phone calls he has made.

At least once a year, Sebastian prints out his account and highlights the work-related calls he made. He makes notes on his account for the first month about who he is phoning for work.

Of the 300 phone calls he has made in a 4week period, Sebastian works out that 45 (15%) of the phone calls are for work and applies that percentage to his cap amount of $49 a month.

Total work phone calls ÷ total number of phone calls = work use percentage for phone calls

45 ÷ 300 = 15%

Sebastian can claim 15% of the total bill of $49 for each month for work purposes:

$49 × 0.15 = $7.35

As Sebastian only worked for 46 weeks of the year (10.6 months), he calculates his work-related mobile phone expense deduction as follows:

10.6 months × $7.35 = $77.91

End of example


Example: work and private use

Sylvette is a lieutenant in the Navy. Sylvette uses her work laptop and personal internet account at home to access her work emails. Sylvette also uses the internet for private purposes.

Sylvette's internet use diary showed 20% of her internet time was for work-related activities and 80% was for private use. As her internet service provider charge for the year was $1,200 she can claim:

$1,200 × 20% = $240 as work-related internet use.

If anyone else in Sylvette's household accessed the internet connection, Sylvette will need to reduce her claim to account for their use.

End of example

Physical training and fitness expenses

It is recognised that ADF members must maintain a high standard of general physical fitness. Expenses you incur in maintaining this standard of fitness – for example, fitness courses and gym memberships are generally private in nature. You can't claim a deduction for these expenses.

You can claim a deduction for expenses you incur if you're participating in a sporting activity while you're on duty and you are:

  • participating as an official ADF representative at inter-service or combined service competition
  • must participate in the activity as part of your normal duties.

Some ADF members are required to maintain a very high level of fitness, well above the general ADF standard. These members derive their income by performing a range of duties designed to keep them physically and mentally prepared. This may include physical training instructors and those in special combat squads.

If you can demonstrate that your job requires the maintenance of a very high level of fitness you may be able to claim a deduction for gym fees, fitness courses and the decline in value of gym equipment. The strenuous physical activity must be an essential and regular element of your duties.

You can’t in any circumstances claim a deduction for expenses you incur to buy conventional clothing you use in the course of keeping fit. This includes tracksuits, running or aerobic shoes, socks, sporting shirts or shorts.

Example: claiming physical training expenses

Johan is a member of the Special Air Services Regiment (SAS). He must maintain an extremely high level of fitness which is well above general ADF standards. Strenuous physical activity is an essential and regular part of his role.

Johan undertakes fitness training while he is on duty, and he is a member of his local gym which he attends every day before he reports for duty. Johan has also purchased some gym equipment to use at home on weekends.

Johan can claim a deduction for the gym fees he incurs and the decline in value of the gym equipment he uses at home.

End of example


Example: can't claim a deduction for extra physical training

Jason, a private in the Army, is required to undertake fitness training for 2 hours per day, 3 times per week while on duty. He also attends his local gym once a week in his own time.

However, as Jason isn't required to maintain a level of fitness above the general Army standard, he can't claim a deduction for any costs incurred in attending the gym.

End of example

Removal and relocation expenses

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.

Example: removal and relocation expenses not deductible

Carmella is a flight sergeant in the Air Force. Carmella's partner has a new job in Darwin so Carmella asks to relocate from the base in Townsville to the base in Darwin. The Air Force agrees to Carmella's move.

Carmella can't claim a deduction for the costs associated with her and her family's move to Darwin. The expenses are private.

End of example

Rifles, ammunition, related equipment and cleaning

The ADF normally supplies and replaces rifles, ammunition and any other equipment you require to carry out your duties.

If you incur costs to maintain and clean equipment the ADF issues, you can claim a deduction for the costs you incur.

Self-education expenses

You can claim a deduction for self-education expenses if it directly relates to your employment as an ADF member and 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 either:

  • 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 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 (VSL)
  • Australian Apprenticeship Support Loans (AASL) (formerly Trade Support Loans (TSL))
  • Student Financial Supplement Scheme (SFSS)
  • Student Start-up Loan (SSL).

While course fees may be deductible, fees you incur under the Higher Education Contribution Scheme Higher Education Loan Program (HECS-HELP) scheme are not deductible.

Example: education not related to current employment

John is considering discharging and would like to go into business for himself. He's doing a part-time course in Business Administration.

As the course isn't related to his current employment, John can't claim a deduction.

End of example

Seminars, conferences and training courses

You can claim a deduction for the cost of seminars, conferences and training courses that relate to your work in the ADF.

The costs you can claim includes 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: course related to current employment

Frances is a truck driver in the Army based in Singleton. She travels to Sydney to attend a 3-day heavy vehicle defensive driving course.

Frances can claim a deduction for costs she incurs in attending the course because the course will improve her skills for current employment. She can't claim for any costs her employer pays or reimburses her for.

End of example

Sunglasses, sunhats and sunscreen

You can claim a deduction for the work-related use of sunglasses, sunhats and sunscreen lotions if you:

  • must work in the sun for extended periods
  • use these items to protect yourself 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: sunglasses for protection while carrying out duties

Jimmy is a corporal in the Army. While carrying out his duties on certain days, he spends extended periods of time outdoors. When he is working outdoors, he wears his Army issued hat, sunscreen and sunglasses to protect himself from the sun.

Jimmy wears the sunglasses when he is not working as well but he only uses the sunscreen when he is working.

Jimmy can't claim a deduction for the hat that the army provides him because he doesn't incur any expense.

Jimmy can claim a deduction for the cost of sunscreen and his sunglasses. As he only uses the sunscreen when he is at work, he can claim the full amount he spent as a deduction. However, he must work out his work-related use of his sunglasses and only claim that percentage of the cost.

End of example

For more ADF member expenses, see: