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Direct carer expenses G–O

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

Last updated 2 June 2024

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.

Grooming expenses

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

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

All grooming expenses and products are private expenses.

Laundry and maintenance

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

  • protective (for example, a smock worn to protect clothes)
  • occupation specific and not a conventional, everyday piece of clothing such as jeans or general business attire
  • a uniform either non-compulsory registered by your employer on the Register of Approved Occupational Clothing 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 work out your claim. This isn't an automatic deduction.

Example: calculating laundry expenses

Sabrina is a home care worker. Her employer provides and requires staff to wear polo shirts with the company’s name and logo embroidered on them. Sabrina must also wear plain black pants or a skirt whilst at work.

Sabrina can claim a deduction for the cost of laundering her polo shirts with the logo as they are unique and distinctive to her employer and compulsory for her to wear whist at work.

Even though Sabrina’s employer also requires her to wear black pants and skirts whilst working she can't claim a deduction for laundering these items. They are considered conventional clothing as they are not unique or distinctive to her employer.

Sabrina works for 40 weeks of the income year and washes her polo shirt twice a week in a mixed load with other items of clothing.

Sabrina calculates her laundry expenses as follows:

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

2 × 40 × $0.50 = $40

As her total claim for laundry expenses is under $150 ($40) Sabrina isn't required to keep evidence of her laundry expenses. However, if asked, she will be required to explain how she calculated the claim.

End of example

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
  • the cost of meals you incur when you are travelling overnight for the purpose of carrying out your employment duties (travel expenses).

Example: buying coffee or food to eat with client

James is a personal care assistant and every Wednesday he takes out his client Laura to complete her shopping. After doing her shopping Laura likes to have a coffee and cake in the nearby café. James, not to appear rude buys himself a coffee and cake to eat with Laura.

James can't claim the cost of food or drink he buys and consumes during his normal working hours as it doesn't directly relate to his income producing activities and is a private expense.

End of example


Example: eating between jobs

Phillip is disability support worker, immediately after completing a sleepover shift he is rostered to commence a day shift from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. Before commencing his day shift he buys breakfast from a local café.

Phillip can't claim a deduction for his breakfast. The cost of the food and drink is private and has no relevant connection to his employment activities.

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 of the following apply:

  • you receive an overtime meal allowance under an industrial law, award or agreement
  • the allowance is on your income statement or payment summary 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 not included as a separate allowance on your income statement or payment summary.

You are generally required 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. This is called 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 work out your claim.

Example: how to calculate overtime meals expenses

Jeff works as a community support worker. After completing his 8-hour shift, Jeff agrees to do overtime for 2 hours to assist another colleague. Under his award, Jeff receives an overtime meal allowance of $13.29 when he works more than one hour after his usual finishing time.

Before starting his overtime, Jeff gets a 30-minute meal break. While he is on his meal break, Jeff buys a meal and drink which costs $19.50 from a nearby cafe.

At the end of the income year, Jeff's employer shows the overtime meal allowance on his income statement. Accordingly, Jeff declares the allowance of $13.29 and claims a deduction of $19.50 in his tax return.

The amount Jeff is claiming as a deduction is less than the Commissioner's reasonable amount for overtime meals, so Jeff doesn't have to keep written evidence. However, he will still need to be able to show how he calculates his claim and that he spent the money.

End of example

For more information, see TD 2023/3 Income tax: what are the reasonable travel and overtime meal allowance expense amounts for the 2023–24 income year?

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