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Factory worker expenses G–O

Last updated 9 June 2023

Details on claiming factory worker expenses.

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 as these are private expenses.

You can claim a deduction for the cost of protective glasses if you wear them to reduce the real and likely risk of illness or injury while working. 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.

Laundry and maintenance

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, a hi-vis jacket)
  • occupation specific and not a conventional, everyday piece of clothing such as jeans
  • 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 incur for repair and dry-cleaning expenses.

If your laundry claim (excluding dry-cleaning expenses) is $150 or less, you don't need to keep records. However, you will still need to be able to show how you work out your claim. This isn't an automatic deduction.

Example: laundry expenses uniform

Che is an employee factory worker. Che must wear a compulsory uniform whenever she is on duty and is also responsible for washing it. Che washes her compulsory uniforms 3 times a week in a mixed laundry load. During the income year, Che works for 50 weeks.

Che calculates her deduction for laundry expenses as follows:

3 washes per week × $0.50 per load by 50 weeks = $75

As Che's claim is less than $150, she isn't required to keep written evidence of her laundry expenses. However, if asked, she will still need explain how she calculates her claim.

End of example

Licences, permits and cards

You can’t claim the costs to get your initial licence, regulatory permit, cards or certificates in order to get a job.

You can claim a deduction for the additional costs you incur to get or renew these expenses in order to continue to perform your work duties. For example, if you need to have a forklift licence to get your job, you can’t claim the initial cost of to get it, however you can claim the cost of renewing it during the period you are working.

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

Example: meal expenses not deductible

Sylvie works at a pharmaceutical manufacturing factory. The factory runs 24 hours a day and Sylvie does the early morning shift which starts at 4:30 am and finishes at 1:30 pm.

During her meal break, Sylvie buys breakfast and a coffee.

Sylvie can't claim a deduction for the cost of her breakfast and coffee which she buys while working her normal early morning shift. The expenses are private expenses.

End of example

Music streaming services, CDs, audio books or podcasts

You can't claim a deduction for the cost of music streaming services, CDs, audio books, podcasts or devices that you use at work. 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.

Newspapers and other news services, magazines and professional publications

The cost of newspapers, other news services and magazines are generally private expenses and not deductible.

You can claim a deduction for the cost of buying or subscribing to a professional publication, newspaper, news service or magazine if you can show:

  • a direct connection between your specific work duties and the content
  • the content is specific to your employment and is not general in nature.

If you use the publication for work and private purposes, you can only claim the portion related to your work-related use.

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 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 wages and not included 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 work out your claim.

Example: overtime meals

Moana completes her 8 hour shift and is asked to work for an additional 3 hours. She is given a meal break and paid a meal allowance of $20 under her enterprise bargaining agreement.

Moana buys and eats a meal during her overtime which costs her $35. The reasonable amount for overtime meals for the relevant income year is $32.50.

Moana can claim a deduction for $35 as she buys and eats the meal while she is working overtime. As Moana's claim for her meal is more than the reasonable amount, she will need to keep written evidence for her overtime meal. Moana gets a receipt and takes a photo of it using the myDeductions tool in the ATO app so she can upload it in myTax when she lodges her tax return.

Moana doesn't need to keep the paper receipt as she has a digital copy stored electronically.

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 factory worker expenses, see:

QC51225