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ADF member expenses T–W

Last updated 25 April 2022

Details on claiming ADF member expenses.

Taxi, ride-share, public transport and car hire

You can claim a deduction for transport costs if you travel in the course of performing your work. For example, taking a taxi from your regular workplace to another work location.

You can’t claim a deduction for travel expenses between home and work, these are private expenses.

You can't claim a deduction if your employer reimburses you for these expenses.

Example: taxi to training deductible

Lachlan is a diver in the Navy at Waverton. When Lachlan attends the diving training school at Mosman for his mandatory, he catches a taxi between Waverton and Mosman.

Lachlan can claim a deduction for the cost of taxi he incurs when he travels to the training.

If the Navy pays for the taxi or reimburses him for the cost of them, Lachlan can't claim a deduction.

End of example

Tools and equipment

You can claim a deduction for tools and equipment you use to perform your duties as an ADF member.

You can only claim a deduction for the work-related use of the item.

If the tool or equipment cost you $300 or less, you can claim for the full amount in the year you buy it, if:

  • you use it mainly for work purposes
  • it's not part of a set that together cost more than $300.

You can claim a deduction for the cost over the life of the item (that is, decline in value), if the tool or equipment:

  • cost more than $300
  • is part of a set that together cost more than $300.

If you bought the tool or item of equipment part way through the income year, you can only claim a deduction for the decline in value for the period of the income year that you own it. Use the Depreciation and capital allowances tool to work out your deduction.

You can also claim a deduction for the cost of repairs to tools and equipment that you use for work purposes.

You can’t claim a deduction for tools and equipment that your employer or a third party supplies.

Example: equipment for work-related use

Brendan is a lawyer in the Air Force. His job requires him to complete case reports and briefs which he sometimes does at home. Brendan carries his work laptop and relevant documents between his office at the base and his home to complete the case reports and briefs.

He buys a laptop bag with an extra compartment for carrying documents for $275. Brendan only uses the bag to transport work items.

Brendan can claim a deduction for the cost of the bag as his job requires him to transport the laptop and documents to work and the bag is suitable to carry all the items.

As Brendan only used the bag for work and it cost less than $300, he can claim a deduction for the whole cost of the bag ($275) in the income year that he bought it.

End of example

Travel expenses

You can claim a deduction for travel expenses you incur when your work requires you to both:

  • travel for work
  • sleep away from your home overnight in the course of performing your employment duties.

Expenses you can claim include your accommodation, meals and expenses which are incidental to the travel (incidentals).

You can't claim a deduction for travel expenses where you don't incur any expenses, because:

  • you slept in accommodation your employer provides
  • you eat meals your employer provides
  • your employer or a third party reimburses you for any costs you incur.

Receiving an allowance from your employer doesn’t automatically mean you can claim a deduction. In all cases, you must be able to show:

  • you were away overnight
  • you have spent the money
  • the travel directly relates to earning your employment income
  • how you worked out your claim.

If you receive a travel allowance you must include it as assessable income in your tax return unless all of the following apply:

  • the travel allowance is not on your income statement or payment summary
  • the travel allowance doesn't exceed the Commissioner's reasonable amount
  • you spent the whole allowance on deductible accommodation, meal and incidental expenses, if applicable.

The Commissioner's reasonable amount is set each year. The amount is used to determine whether an exception from keeping written evidence applies for the following expenses which are covered by a travel allowance:

  • accommodation
  • meals
  • incidentals.

You don’t have to keep written evidence, such as receipts, if both the following apply:

  • you received a travel allowance from your employer for the expenses
  • your deduction is less than the Commissioner’s reasonable amount.

If you claim a deduction for more than the Commissioner’s reasonable amount you need to keep receipts for all expenses, not just for the amount over the Commissioner’s reasonable amount.

Even if you are not required to keep written evidence such as receipts, you must be able to explain your claim and show you spent the amounts.

Example: travel for work purposes

Georgina is a logistics and finance officer in the Navy based at Potts Point, Sydney. Georgina must travel to Campbell, Canberra for a 3 day training course.

Georgina receives an allowance to cover her accommodation, meals and incidental expenses. The allowance is not on Georgina's income statement at the end of the income year and does not exceed the Commissioner's reasonable amounts.

Georgina fully spent the allowance on accommodation, meals and incidentals.

Georgina's trip to Canberra is work-related travel because Georgina must stay away from her home overnight in the course of performing her duties.

As the allowance is not shown on her income statement and Georgina spent her allowance on accommodation, meals and incidental expenses which were less than the reasonable amount, the allowance does not have to be declared as income in Georgina's tax return.

Georgina also can't claim a deduction for the accommodation, meal and incidental expenses.

End of example

 

Example: travel not for work purposes

Corey is based at the Air Force in Wagga Wagga, New South Wales. He gets 3 fully funded return flights a year to visit his family, who live in Perth, Western Australia.

When Corey takes a trip home to see his family, he can't claim any deductions for accommodation, meals or incidentals. The travel does not relate to earning Corey's employment income and is private.

End of example

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?

Union and professional association fees

You can claim a deduction for union and professional association fees you pay. You can use your income statement as evidence of the amount you pay if it's shown on there.

Watches and smart watches

You can't claim a deduction for the cost of buying or maintaining ordinary watches or timepieces, even if you require one as part of your job. This is a private expense.

However, you can claim a deduction if your watch has special characteristics that you use for a work-related purpose.

If the watch cost more than $300, you can claim a deduction for its decline in value over the effective life.

You can claim a deduction for the cost of repairs, batteries and watchbands for special watches. If you also wear your watch when you aren't working, you only claim a deduction for your work-related use of the special watch.

Similar to ordinary watches, a smart watch (that connects to a phone or other device to provide notifications, apps and GPS) is a private expense and not deductible under ordinary circumstances.

However, if you require some of the smart watch's functions as an essential part of your employment activities you may be able to apportion the expense between your private and work use. In order to show your work-related use of the watch, you will need to keep a diary or similar record of your use of the watch for a representative period.

Example: Specialty watch apportioned for private use

Brandon is a clearance diver in the Navy. He buys a diving watch for $350 that he uses every day for work. He also uses the watch when he goes diving recreationally.

As Brandon's diving watch cost more than $300, he can claim a deduction for the decline in value of the watch. However, Brandon would need to apportion the decline in value deduction between his work and private use and claim only the portion that relates to his work use.

End of example

Weight loss expenses

You can't claim a deduction for weight loss expenses. It's a private expense.

Working from home expenses

You may be able to claim a deduction for working from home expenses you incur as an employee. These can be additional running expenses such as electricity, the decline in value of equipment or furniture, phone and internet expenses. You must:

  • use one of the methods set out by us to calculate your deduction
  • keep the records required for the method chosen.

Example: deduction for additional running expenses incurred

Rani is a lieutenant in the Navy. Her duties involve responding to emails and preparing written reports. When Rani is busy, she uses the laptop provided by her employer to do some work at home in the evenings or on weekends. Occasionally Rani sits in the lounge room with her family when she is working but on other occasions, she uses a different room of the house that her family is not occupying.

When Rani works in her lounge room while other members of her family are in there, she does not incur any additional costs for lighting or heating/cooling the room so she can't claim a deduction for those running expenses.

When Rani uses another room in her house for work, which other members of her family are not occupying, she will incur additional costs for electricity related to lighting and for heating/cooling the room. Rani can claim a deduction for these additional running costs.

End of example

There are some expenses you can't claim a deduction for as an ADF member or employee when you work at home, including:

  • for coffee, tea, milk and other general household items your employer may provide you at work
  • for your children and their education including      
    • setting them up for online learning
    • teaching them at home
    • buying equipment such as iPads and desks
     
  • your employer pays for or reimburses you for the expense
  • for the decline in value of items provided by your employer – for example, a laptop or a phone.

Generally, as an ADF member or employee, you can’t claim occupancy expenses (rent, rates, mortgage interest and house insurance premiums). You can’t claim a deduction if your employer pays for your home office to be set up or they reimburse you for the expenses.

The Home office expenses calculator helps you work out the amount you can claim as a deduction when you work from home.

For more information, see:

  • PS LA 2001/6 Verification approaches for home office and electronic device expenses
  • TR 93/30 Income tax: deductions for home office expenses
  • PCG 2023/1 Claiming a deduction for additional running expenses incurred while working from home

For more ADF member expenses, see:

QC26110