ato logo
Search Suggestion:

Call centre operator expenses T–W

Last updated 8 June 2023

Details on claiming call centre operator 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 to another work location because a fleet vehicle was not available.

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.

Tools and equipment

You can claim a deduction for tools and equipment you use to perform your duties as a call centre operator. For example, the cost of your headset.

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 an immediate deduction in the year you buy it, if:

  • you use it mainly for work purposes (more than 50% of the time)
  • 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 year, you can only claim a deduction for the decline in value for the period of the income year that you own it. To work out your deduction use the Depreciation and capital allowances tool.

You can also claim a deduction for the cost of insurance and 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 for use.

Example: equipment costing less than $300

Louise is a call centre operator. She is required to purchase her own headset for her to use each day. The headset costs Louise $250 and she is not reimbursed by her employer.

Louise can claim a deduction for the cost of her headset as:

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

If Louise is reimbursed by her employer, she can't claim a deduction as she hasn't incurred any expenses.

End of example

Travel expenses

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

  • 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). For example, travel to attend a conference, seminar or training course.

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.

You also can't claim a deduction if you:

  • aren't required to sleep away from your home overnight in the course of performing your employment duties, for example, if you fly interstate and return home the same day
  • you choose to sleep near your workplace rather than returning home, for example you rent accommodation near your workplace and stay there because you live a long way from where you work.

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 work 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 shown 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 of the following apply:

  • you receive 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 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: claiming travel expenses

Latisha is a call centre operator and works from home in regional Queensland. Once a month she is required to travel to Brisbane for team meetings at head office. Her employer pays for her flights and accommodation and pays her a travel allowance for her meals while travelling (breakfast, lunch and dinner).

The amount Latisha spends on each of her meals while she is in Brisbane for work is less than the reasonable amounts.

As the allowance is paid to specifically cover the meals Latisha will consume while she is travelling away overnight for work, she isn't required to keep receipts for her breakfast, lunch and dinner expenses so long as she:

  • includes the allowance as income in her tax return
  • isn't claiming more than the Commissioner's reasonable rates.

Latisha can't claim a deduction for the cost of her flights and accommodation as she doesn't incur these expenses.

Latisha can claim a deduction for the amount she spent on meals. She can't just claim a deduction for the reasonable amounts for those meals.

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 2022-23income 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.

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 you choose.

There are some expenses you can't claim a deduction for as an employee. Employees who work at home can't claim costs:

  • 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 employee you can’t claim occupancy expenses (rent, rates, mortgage interest and house insurance premiums) unless your home office is:

  • your only place of work because no other work location is provided by your employer
  • used exclusively or almost exclusively for work purposes and isn't readily capable of being used for any other purpose.

You can’t claim a deduction if your employer paid for your home office to be set up or they reimbursed you for the expense.

Use the Home office expenses calculator to help you work out the amount you can claim as a deduction for home office expenses.

Example: running and occupancy expenses when working from home

Rosemary is a call centre operator who works solely from home because her employer does not provide her with a work location. Rosemary has set up a separate home office to work from which she only uses for work purposes. Her employer provides her with a computer and headset but doesn't reimburse Rosemary for any of her other working from home expenses.

Rosemary can claim a deduction for the additional running expenses she incurs as a result of working from home. This includes the cost of electricity for lighting, heating and cooling, internet expenses and the decline in value of office furniture.

Rosemary can also claim a deduction for the occupancy expenses related to her home office.

End of example
  • 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 - ATO compliance approach

For more call centre operator expenses, see:

QC61553