ato logo
Search Suggestion:

Engineer expenses P–S

Last updated 8 June 2023

Details on claiming common engineer expenses for:

Parking fees and tolls

You can't claim a deduction for parking at or near a regular place of work. You also can't claim a deduction for tolls you incur for trips between your home and work. This is a private expense.

You can claim a deduction for parking fees and tolls you incur on work-related trips.

Example: parking fees

Lucy drives her own car to work each day and parks in the secure parking centre across the road from the civil engineering firm where she works.

Twice a year Lucy drives her car to her employer's head office to complete mandatory training she requires for her role as a civil engineer. She pays for parking at the head office and isn't reimbursed by her employer.

Lucy can't claim the cost she incurs for parking near her civil engineering firm, as it is her regular place of work. However, she can claim her parking costs when she travels to head office for mandatory training as she incurs the cost on a work-related trip.

End of example

Phone, data and internet expenses

You can claim a deduction for phone, data and internet costs for the work-related use of your own phone or electronic devices.

If your work phone, data and internet use for work is incidental and you're not claiming more than $50 in total, you do not need to keep records.

If you claim more than $50, you need to keep records to show your work use. For example, an itemised bill where you can identify your work-related phone calls and data use.

You can’t claim a deduction if your employer:

  • provides you with a phone for work and pays for your usage
  • reimburses you for the costs you incur.

You can’t claim a deduction for any phone calls to family and friends, even while you're travelling for work. This is because these are personal phone calls.

If all or part of your work-related phone, data and internet expenses are incurred as a result of working from home and you use the revised fixed rate method to claim your working from home deductions, you can't claim a separate deduction for these expenses.

For more information, see:

Example: calculating phone expenses

George is a mechanical engineer and he uses his personal mobile phone to make and receive phone calls from clients and his co-workers. He's on a set mobile plan of $59 a month and rarely exceeds the plan cap.

He receives an itemised bill from his phone provider each month, which includes details of the individual phone calls he has made.

At least once a year, George prints out his phone bill and highlights his work-related phone calls. He also notes on the bill about who he has phoned, for example his manager and clients.

Of the 200 phone calls made in a 4 week period, George works out that 40 (20%) of his phone calls are for work. He applies that percentage to his cap amount of $59 a month.

George worked for 46 weeks (10.6 months) of the year, so he calculates his work-related mobile phone expense deduction as follows:

Total work phone calls ÷ total number of phone calls = work use percentage for phone calls

40 ÷ 200 = 0.20 (that is 20%)

George can claim 20% of the total bill of $59 for each month for work purposes.

$59 × 0.20 = $11.80

George's total expense for work-related phone calls is:

10.6 months × $11.80 = $125.08

End of example


Example: work and private use

Samantha starts working as a pharmaceutical engineer in August. Samantha uses her computer and personal internet account at home to respond and action client requests. Samantha also uses her computer and internet for private purposes.

Samantha keeps a diary for a 4-week period, recording the times she used the internet for work and private purposes. Her internet use diary shows 15% of her internet usage was for work-related activities and 85% was for private use.

Samantha is on an unlimited internet plan, which costs her $100 per month. As her internet service provider charge for the year was $1,100 ($100 per month × 11 months) she can claim:

$1,100 × 0.15 = $165 as work-related internet use.

If there was anyone else that accesses the internet connection, Samantha will need to reduce her claim to account for their use.

End of example

Protective items

You can claim a deduction for the cost of protective items if you wear them to protect you from the real and likely risk of injury or illness in your work environment or while performing your work duties.

To be considered protective, the equipment must provide a sufficient degree of protection against the risks of illness or injury you are exposed to in carrying out your work duties. Protective items can include gloves, safety glasses, goggles and breathing masks.

For example, an electrical engineer can claim a deduction for the cost of safety glasses and leather gloves.

You can also claim the costs you incur to repair, replace or clean protective items.

You can't claim a deduction if your employer:

  • supplies the protective items
  • reimburses for the cost you incur to buy protective items.

Example: protective items

Raymond is a civil engineer and must attend the building site to perform his duties. He must wear steel-capped boots and a hard hat when on site. If he doesn't wear these items, he is at risk of being injured.

There is a connection between the expense he incurs on the steel-capped boots and hard hat and the protection the items provide for him during his employment.

Raymond can claim a deduction for the cost of the steel-capped boots and hard hat.

End of example

Repairs to tools and equipment

You can claim a deduction for repairs to tools and equipment you use for work. If you also use them for private purposes, you can only claim an amount for your work-related use.

Self-education expenses

You can claim a deduction for self-education expenses if it directly relates to your employment as an engineer and at the time the expense was incurred it:

  • maintains or improves the skills and knowledge you need for your current duties
  • results in or is likely to result in an increase in your income from your current employment.

You can't claim a deduction if the self-education expense if at the time the expense was incurred it:

  • doesn't have a connection with your current employment
  • only relates in a general way to your current employment
  • enables you to get employment or change employment.

If your self-education expenses are deductible, you can claim expenses such as course or tuition fees, student and amenities fees, textbooks, academic journals and stationery expenses. You will also be able to claim a deduction for the decline in value of any depreciating assets which cost more than $300 that you use for your work-related study.

If you study at home, you may also be able to claim work from home running expenses, but not occupancy expenses.

You can't claim a deduction for the repayments you make on your study or training support loan. Study and training support loans include:

  • Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) (FEE-HELP and HECS-HELP)
  • VET Student Loans (VETSL)
  • Trade Support Loan Program (TSL)
  • Student Financial Supplement Scheme (SFSS)
  • Student Start-up Loan (SSL)

While course or tuition fees may be deductible, fees you incur under the Higher Education Contribution Scheme Higher Education Loan Program (HECS-HELP) scheme are not deductible.

Example: self-education related to income-earning activities

Doug is an employee administrative clerk for a mining company and is completing a Bachelor of Engineering.

He is offered a trainee engineering position with the mining company on the understanding that he will continue his studies.

Doug can't claim his study expenses while employed as an administrative clerk because the study doesn't maintain or improve the knowledge Doug requires to be an administrative clerk. However, he can claim his study expenses while employed as a trainee engineer.

End of example


Example: no sufficient connection with current role

Danica is a qualified draftsperson at an engineering firm. She is currently completing a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering to further her career.

Danica can't claim a deduction for the course and associated study expenses as the course doesn't directly relate to her current employment activities as a draftsperson.

End of example


Example: maintains or improves specific skill or knowledge

Ashran holds a Bachelor of Chemical Engineering and is works as a chemical engineer in a technology firm. She decides to complete a Master of Engineering (Chemical) to extend her field of specialisation.

Ashran can claim a deduction for the course and associated study expenses as the course enables her to maintain or improve the skills specific to her current income-producing activities as a chemical engineer.

End of example

Seminars, conferences and training courses

You can claim a deduction for the cost of seminars, conferences and training courses that relate to your work as an engineer.

The costs you can claim includes fares to attend the venue where the seminar, conference or training course is held and registration costs. If you need to travel and stay away from home overnight to attend such an event, you can also claim the cost of accommodation and meals.

You may not be able to claim all of your expenses if attending a seminar, conference or training course is for both work-related and private purposes. If the private purpose is incidental, such as a catered lunch or a reception for delegates, you can still claim all your expenses. However, if the main purpose is not work-related, such as attending a conference while on a holiday, you can only claim the direct costs. Direct costs include the registration costs.

Where you have a dual purpose for attending the seminar, conference or training course. For example, you add a holiday of one week to a training course that runs for one week, then you can only claim the work-related portion.

Example: deductible seminar

Timothy is an environmental engineer. In order to maintain his continued professional development and professional accreditation he attends a Landfill Engineering and Environmental Management seminar. Timothy pays the registration fee to attend and isn't reimbursed by his employer.

Timothy can claim a deduction for the registration fee, as the seminar is related to his work as an environmental engineer. He takes a photo of the registration form, receipt of payment and records the expense in the myDeductions tool in the ATO app.

End of example


Example: conference expenses reimbursed

Jenny is a robotics engineer with an automotive manufacturer. She attends the annual International Conference on Mechatronics and Robotics Engineering to ensure she is up to date on the latest innovations in her field.

Jenny’s employer pays for her flights, accommodation and registration to attend the three-day conference. All meals are provided at the conference and include in the registration fee.

Jenny can't claim a deduction for these expenses as she didn't incur any of the expenses.

End of example

Sunglasses, sunhats and sunscreen

You can claim a deduction for the work-related use of sunglasses, sunhats and sunscreen lotions if you:

  • must work in the sun for extended periods
  • use these items to protect yourself from the real and likely risk of illness or injury while at work.

This includes prescription sunglasses and anti-glare glasses.

You can only claim a deduction for the work-related use of these products if you also wear them for private purposes.

Example: claiming sunglasses

Hassan works for a civil engineering firm in far north Queensland. He regularly works at more than one location each day performing site inspections. He wears sunglasses for protection against the glare of the sun while driving from site to site and while working outside on site. He also needs to wear glasses while driving, for his short-sightedness.

He buys a pair of prescription sunglasses which counter the glare and protect his eyes from sun damage while he is driving and working outside on site. He also buys a pair of untinted prescription glasses for night driving.

Hassan can claim a deduction for the prescription sunglasses, but not for the untinted prescription glasses. The prescription sunglasses protect Hassan's eyes from glare and sun damage while he is carrying out his duties. Hassan's prescription glasses correct his vision and the cost of buying them is private.

If Hassan wears his prescription sunglasses for private purposes as well, he'll have to apportion the cost of them.

End of example

For more engineer expenses, see: