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Call centre operator expenses G–O

Last updated 8 June 2023

Details on claiming call centre operator expenses.

Glasses, contact lenses and anti-glare glasses

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 as a call centre operator. 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.

Grooming expenses

You can't claim a deduction for hairdressing, cosmetics, hair and skin care products, even though:

  • you may receive an allowance for grooming
  • your employer expects you to be well groomed.

All grooming products are private expenses.

Laundry and maintenance

You can claim a deduction for the costs you incur to wash, dry and iron clothing you wear at work if it's:

  • protective (for example, a hi-vis jacket)
  • occupation specific and 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 includes laundromat and dry-cleaning expenses.

We consider that a reasonable basis for working out your laundry expenses 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: uniform laundry expenses

Sally's employer provides all staff with compulsory uniforms. She washes, dries and irons her uniforms separately twice a week. Sally works 48 weeks during the year. Her claim of $96 for laundry expenses is worked out as follows:

Number of claimable laundry loads per week × number of weeks × reasonable cost per load

2 × 48 × $1 = $96

As Sally's total claim for laundry expenses is less than $150 ($96), she isn't required to maintain written evidence of her laundry expenses.

Although Sally isn't required to provide written evidence of her claim for laundry, if asked, she will still need to explain how she calculated her claim.

End of example

Massage expenses

You can't claim a deduction for the cost of massages or other alternative therapies, these are private expenses.

Meal and snack expenses

You can't claim a deduction for the cost of food, drink or snacks you consume during 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 meal

Bonnie starts work at 10:00 pm and works through until 6:00 am the following morning. During her shift she has a meal break and buys a meal.

The cost of Bonnie's meal isn't deductible as she bought and consumed it during her normal working hours. It is a private expense.

End of example

 

Example: allowance received but no deduction for meal

Kieran starts work at 2:00 pm and due to being understaffed doesn't get a meal break until 8:00 pm the same evening.

As he has worked for more than 5 consecutive hours without a meal break, Kieran receives an allowance of $4.24 for the inconvenience. This allowance is on his income statement at the end of the income year.

During his meal break, Kieran buys a meal for $12.80. Kieran must declare the allowance as income but he can't claim a deduction for the cost of his meal. Kieran buys and consumes the meal during ordinary working hours, it is a private expense. The receipt of an allowance doesn't change this.

End of example

Overtime meal expenses

You can claim a deduction for the cost of a meal you buy and eat when you work overtime, if all 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 received an overtime meal allowance, are claiming a deduction and spent:

  • up to the 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 work out your claim.

Example: overtime meal

Anna completes her 8 hour shift and is asked to work for an additional 3 hours. She is given an additional meal break and paid an overtime meal allowance of $20 in accordance with her enterprise bargaining agreement.

Anna buys a meal that cost $21 and eats the meal during her overtime meal break. The cost of the meal is less than the reasonable amount. Anna is aware that she will need to explain how she calculates her claim if asked so she makes a note of what she ate and the cost in her electronic calendar.

Anna can claim a deduction of $21 without a receipt as the expenditure is below the Commissioner's reasonable amounts and she bought and consumed the meal during her overtime meal break.

Although Anna isn't required to provide evidence of her claim for the overtime meal expense, if asked, she will still need to explain how she calculates her claim.

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?

For more call centre operator expenses, see:

QC61553