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Call centre operator expenses A–F

Last updated 8 June 2023

Details on claiming call centre operator expenses.

Car expenses

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

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

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.

To be able to claim a deduction for the cost of trips between home and work 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 reasonably 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 arrangement) when you drive:

  • directly between separate jobs on the same day – for example, travelling from your job in a call centre to your second job as a waitperson
  • to and from an alternative workplace for the same employer on the same day – for example, travelling from your office to the company training centre.
  • from home directly to an alternative workplace – for example, travelling from home to an office of your employer (other than your regular office) for a meeting.

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 the kilometres travelled 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.

Use the Work-related car expenses calculator to 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 aren't 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: normal trips between home and work

Michelle is a call centre operator. Michelle is regularly called in to work when someone is unavailable and is paid overtime. She travels from home directly to the office.

Michelle can't claim a deduction for the cost of travel between home and the office, even when she works overtime. Her travel is a private expense.

End of example

 

Example: using your own car for work-related purposes

Josie works from her employer's head office and manages a team of call centre operators that work from home. Each month, Josie visits her team to provide performance feedback. To do this, she travels from her home to head office to collect the performance reports. She then travels to a range of locations to meet with each team member. Josie uses her own car, as a fleet car isn't available.

Josie can't claim a deduction for the car expenses she incurs when she travels from home to head office.

Josie can claim a deduction for the car expenses she incurs visiting her staff. During the income year, Josie keeps a valid logbook to record her travel.

End of example

 

Example: travelling between alternative workplaces for the same employer

Sarah is an employee at a call centre. Once a month she attends a training course at the head office in the afternoon. Sarah travels directly from her usual workplace to the head office to complete the training.

Sarah can claim a deduction for the expenses she incurs to travel from her regular office to her employer's head office (an alternative workplace) and then home.

Sarah can't claim a deduction for travel between her home and regular workplace as this is private travel.

End of example

Child care

You can't claim a deduction for 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)

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

You can't claim conventional clothing (including footwear) as a work-related expense, even if your employer requires you to wear it and you only wear these items of clothing at work.

'Conventional clothing' is everyday clothing worn by people regardless of their occupation – for example, business attire worn by a call centre operator.

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

  • protective – clothing with protective features or functions that you wear to protect you from specific risks of injury or illness at work. For example, steel-capped boots, fire-resistant clothing, or boiler suits that protect conventional 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 jeans, trousers, socks, closed shoes. It is unlikely that call centre operators would have protective clothing.
  • occupation-specific – clothing that distinctly identifies you as a person with a particular profession, trade or occupation. For example, a judge's robes or a chef's chequered pants. Items traditionally worn in a profession are not occupation-specific where the clothing is worn by multiple professions. It is unlikely that call centre operators would have occupation-specific clothing.
  • a compulsory uniform – clothing that your employer strictly and consistently enforces you wear by workplace agreement or policy and distinctly identifies either    
    • you as an employee working for a particular employer
    • the products or services your employer provides
  • a non-compulsory uniform – clothing that your employer registers on the Register of Approved Occupational Clothing with AusIndustry.

You can't claim a deduction if your employer buys, repairs or replaces your clothing.

Example: conventional clothes worn with a uniform

Rick is an employee in a call centre for an online shopping provider. His employer requires him to buy and wear a polo shirt with their logo embroidered on it. Uniform guidelines also include a requirement for staff to wear professional black pants with the shirt and enclosed black shoes.

Rick can claim a deduction for the costs of buying the shirts as they are a compulsory uniform.

He can't claim the cost of the pants or shoes even though his employer requires him to wear a specific colour. They are not distinctive enough to make them part of his compulsory uniform and are conventional in nature.

End of example

 

Example: compulsory uniform

Joe is an employee call centre operator for the police service. His employer provides him with a compulsory uniform to wear at work.

Joe can't claim a deduction for buying the uniform as he didn't incur the expense. He can claim a deduction for the cost of laundering and repairing the uniform.

End of example

 

Example: conventional clothing

Peter works in a call centre for a telecommunications provider. He is not required to wear a specific uniform and chooses to wear jeans, a polo shirt and black boots to work each day.

Peter can't claim a deduction for the cost of his jeans, shirts and shoes. They are items of conventional clothing and footwear and the expenses are private.

End of example

Compulsory assessments

You can claim a deduction for compulsory assessments and medical examinations your employer requires you to take in your current employment. For example, an annual hearing test.

You can’t claim a deduction for compulsory pre-employment assessments and medical examinations you take to obtain employment as a call centre operator. For example, a hearing test you need to pass as a condition of employment.

Example: assessment you can't claim

Luke interviews for a new job as a call centre operator and is offered the position. As a condition of employment, before commencing work, Luke must get a hearing test and provide the audiology report to his employer. The test and report costs Luke $185.

Luke can't claim a deduction for this assessment, as it's a requirement for Luke to have this assessment in order for him to get employment as a call centre operator.

End of example

For more call centre operator expenses, see:

QC61553