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Direct carer expenses A–F

Last updated 2 June 2023

Details on claiming common community support worker and direct carer expenses.

Award transport payments (fares allowance)

You can claim a deduction for expenses covered by award transport payments, if the expenses are for work-related travel, and you have actually spent the money.

You will need to be able to show how you work out you claim if we request this information. You don’t need written evidence if your claim is less than the amount in the award as at 29 October 1986. If you're unsure of this amount, your union or employer can tell you.

Allowances you receive from your employer for transport or car expenses that are paid under an award must be included in your tax return. These allowances are assessable income.

Board and lodging

You can't claim a deduction for board and lodging if you live at the facility where you work.

Example: staying overnight at workplace

Jill is a carer at a disability care facility. Jill has the option of living on site at the facility which she does. Her employer deducts an amount from her wages for board and lodging each week.

Jill can't claim a deduction for board and lodging expenses. The expenses are private living expenses.

End of example

Car expenses

You can't claim a deduction for car expenses 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, where you carry bulky tools or equipment for work or where you have shifting places of employment.

To claim a deduction for the cost of trips between home and work while 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 are considered to have shifting places of work where you have no fixed place of work and you continually travel from one work site to another during the course of your working day.

You can also claim a deduction for the cost of using a car you own, lease or hire (under a hire-purchase agreement) when you drive:

  • directly between separate jobs on the same day – for example, travelling from your home carer job to a second job as a registered nurse
  • to and from an alternative workplace for the same employer on the same day – for example, driving directly between client visits
  • from home directly to an alternative workplace – for example, travelling from home to a training centre to attend a work-related training course.

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 also 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 there is no requirement for you 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: using your car to transport clients

Sharon is a community carer who visits her client Trevor every Thursday to assist him with his weekly shopping. Sharon picks Trevor up from his home, before driving him to his local supermarket to collect his groceries and then drives him home.

Sharon can claim a deduction for the car expenses she incurs to assist Trevor with his shopping.

End of example

 

Example: shifting places of work

Li is a community support worker who spends most of her week working outside the office, conducting home visits. Each day she drives her own car from home directly to different client's homes to provide in home support.

On a few days during the week, she also goes into the office to attend meetings, catch up on her emails and any other reporting she must complete.

Li can claim a deduction for the travel between:

  • her home and the different client's homes
  • one client's home to another
  • her client's home to office
  • her home and the office.

This is because Li continually travels from one place of work to another during her working day. Li has no fixed place of work. She has shifting places of work.

End of example

Child care

You can't claim a deduction for the cost of 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, jeans and business shirts.

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 that has protective features and functions you wear to protect you from specific risks of injury or illness at work. For example, steel-capped boots, fire-resistant clothing, or aprons 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, drill shirts, shorts, trousers, socks, closed shoes.
  • 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 Community support workers and direct carers 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 compulsory uniform

Braeden is required to buy a purple polo shirt with his employer's logo embroidered on and wear it whilst working. He is also required as per his employer's uniform guidelines to wear black pants and closed in black shoes.

Braeden can claim a deduction for cost of buying the polo shirt with the logo as it a compulsory uniform. However, he can't claim the cost of buying his black pants or shoes as they are conventional.

Even though his employer requires him to wear a specific colour of pants and shoes, they are not distinctive enough to make them form part of his compulsory uniform. They are conventional clothes that can be worn outside of work.

End of example

 

Example: conventional clothing not deductible

Simon is a community support worker and due to his duties, he likes to wear durable and comfortable clothing such as dark denim jeans, t-shirts and running shoes.

As the jeans, t-shirts and running shoes are conventional clothing, Simon can't claim a deduction for buying, repairing or replacing these items. Even though Simon only wears these items to work, it doesn't change the deductibility of the items.

End of example

Drivers licence

You can't claim a deduction for the cost to get or renew your drivers licence, even if you must have it as a condition of employment. This is a private expense.

You can claim a deduction for additional costs you incur to get a special licence or condition on your licence in order to perform your duties.

Example: drivers licence and heavy vehicle permit required for duties

Tina, an employee at an aged care home, requires a drivers licence and a heavy vehicle permit to drive the bus used to take residents on day trips.

Tina can claim a deduction for cost of the heavy vehicle permit because it is directly related to her employment duties.

Tina can't claim a deduction for the cost of getting or renewing her driver's licence.

End of example

Entertainment and social functions

You can't claim a deduction for the cost of any entertainment, fundraising or social functions. For example, the costs you incur for yourself and your client when attending a movie. This applies even if they are compulsory, non-compulsory or you discuss work matters at the event. Entertainment and social functions include the cost of:

  • work breakfasts, lunches or dinners
  • attendance at sporting events
  • gala or social nights
  • concerts or dances
  • cocktail parties
  • other similar types of functions or events.

These are private expenses because these events don't have a direct connection to your income-producing activities.

You also can’t claim the cost of travelling to and from functions.

Example: entertainment expenses

Melanie is an activity worker and part of her duties involve taking her clients out for daily activities or experiences to stay active, whilst interacting with others. Melanie doesn't incur the cost for her client, however if she chooses to participate in the activity, she is responsible for her own costs.

Even though Melanie is only participating in activities such as going to the cinemas because of her duties as an activity worker, she can't claim a deduction whilst accompanying her client. The expense is for entertainment.

End of example

First aid courses

You can claim a deduction for the cost of first aid training courses if you are both:

  • a designated first aid person
  • need to complete a first aid training course to assist in emergency work situations.

You can’t claim a deduction if your employer pays for or reimburses you for the cost of the course.

For more community support worker or direct carers' expenses, see:

QC64670