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 or likely risk of illness or injury while working as a cleaner. Protective glasses include anti-glare or photochromatic glasses, sunglasses, safety glasses or goggles.
You only claim a deduction for the work-related use of the item.
Example: prescription glasses and safety glasses worn while working
Ruby is an employee cleaner. Ruby is long-sighted so she needs wear prescription glasses when she is cleaning so that she can see when surfaces are dirty and whether they have been cleaned properly. Ruby buys a pair of prescription glasses to use only when she is working.
As she also uses harsh cleaning chemicals, Ruby buys a pair of safety glasses to sit over her prescription glasses.
Ruby can't claim a deduction for her prescription glasses even though she only uses them at work. The expense is private.
Ruby can claim a deduction for the cost of the safety glasses because they are worn to protect her eyes from the risk of injury while she is carrying out her employment duties.End of example
You can't claim a deduction for the costs you incur for washing, drying, ironing or mending conventional clothing that is stained or damaged at work. For example, washing the clothes you wear to work to remove stains such as grime or dirt.
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, an apron)
- 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 also includes laundromat and dry-cleaning expenses.
We consider that a reasonable basis for working out your laundry 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 worked out your claim. This isn't an automatic deduction.
Example: laundry expenses
Jelani is a commercial office cleaner. She receives a uniform from her employer. Jelani washes, dries and irons her uniforms twice a week. Jelani 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 = total number of claimable laundry loads
2 × 48 = 96
Total number of claimable laundry loads × reasonable cost per load = total claim amount
96 × $1 = $96
As her total claim for laundry expenses is under $150, Jelani isn't required to keep written evidence of her laundry expenses. However, if asked, she will still be required to explain how she calculated her claim.End of example
You can't claim a deduction for the cost of food, drink or snacks you consume in the course of 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).
You can't claim a deduction for music streaming services, CDs, audio books, podcasts or devices that you use while cleaning, even if they're used to keep you motivated or occupied at work. These items aren't essential to earning your income. They are private expenses.
You can claim a deduction for the cost of a meal you buy and eat when you work overtime, if all of 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 not shown 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 receive an overtime meal allowance, are claiming a deduction and spent:
- up to 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 and how you worked out your claim.
Example: deduction for overtime meal
Carl cleans holiday homes during summer. During peak season, Carl worked 20 overtime shifts, after completing his normal 8-hour shift. He receives an overtime meal break and overtime meal allowance of $20 under the award each time this occurs.
Carl generally buys and eats a meal costing $15 during overtime. Carl's income statement shows the overtime meal allowances as a separate allowance totalling $400.
20 overtime shifts × $20 = $400
In his tax return, Carl includes the allowance as income and claims a deduction. He works out his deduction as:
$15 × 20 overtime shifts = $300.
That is the actual amount he spent on overtime meals multiplied by the number of overtime shifts.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 cleaner expenses, see: