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Direct carer expenses T–W

Last updated 2 June 2023

Details on claiming common community support worker or direct carer 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 from your regular workplace to another work location because a fleet vehicle was not available.

You can’t claim a deduction for the cost of normal journeys 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 community support worker or direct carer.

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 a deduction for the full amount in the year you buy it, if:

  • you use it mainly for work purposes
  • 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. Use the Depreciation and capital allowances tool to work out your deduction.

You can also claim a deduction for the cost of 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 for work-related use

Hetty is a home care worker. She buys a stand assist tool for $189 which helps her clients get up from a sitting position. Hetty takes this tool from client to client.

As she doesn't receive any reimbursement from her employer, and the tool cost less than $300 Hetty can claim a deduction for the full cost of the stand assist tool.

End of example

Travel expenses

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

  • 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, when you travel interstate to attend a work-related conference, seminar or training course.

However, you aren't considered to be travelling for work, if you are required to stay overnight at a client's place. Therefore, expenses you incur, such as meals are not deductible.

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.

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 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 received 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 Commissioner’s 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. For example, show your work diary, bank statements and that you receive and correctly declare your travel allowance.

Example: travel away from home overnight

Fraser is a respite carer who specialises in caring for clients with dementia. Every year Fraser travels to attend the National Dementia Conference which is held over a 2-day period interstate.

The conference enables Fraser to maintain or improve his skills in providing appropriate care to clients with dementia. His employer pays for the conference registration and his flights; however, Fraser is responsible for his remaining expenses.

Fraser can claim a deduction for the amount he spends on accommodation, meals and incidentals expenses whilst attending the conference.

As Fraser doesn't receive a travel allowance from his employer, he must get and keep all his receipts as evidence of his expenses.

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?

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.

Vaccinations

You can't claim a deduction for the cost of vaccinations, even if your employer requires you to have the vaccination. These are private expenses.

Example: flu vaccination not deductible

Penelope is a personal carer and works with clients who are medically compromised. Her employer requires that she obtains the flu vaccination each year.

Penelope can't claim a deduction for the cost of being vaccinated against the flu even though it is a requirement of her employment. Vaccinations including the flu shot are private expenses.

End of example

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 both:

  • your only place of work because no other work location is provided by your employer
  • exclusively or almost exclusively used for work purposes.

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.

Example: running expenses and occupancy expenses when working from home

Ronaldo is a community support worker. As he spends most of his working hours visiting clients, Ronaldo finds it more convenient to complete his other employment duties such as reading and responding to work emails and completing reports at home rather than in his employer's office. Ronaldo has set up a small room in his house as an office which he only uses for work purposes.

Ronaldo can claim a deduction for the additional running expenses he incurs as a result of working in his home office.

Ronaldo can't claim a deduction for a portion of his occupancy expenses. His employer provides him a place of work to carry out the duties he performs at home. Ronaldo's other duties are carried out at his clients' houses.

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 community support worker or direct carers' expenses, see:

QC64670