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Fire fighter expenses A–F

Last updated 9 June 2023

Details on claiming fire fighter expenses.

Car expenses

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

To be able to claim a deduction for the cost of trips between home and work while carrying bulky 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 employment where you have no fixed place of work and you continually travel from one work site to another before returning home.

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 firefighting job to your second job as a first aid trainer
  • to and from an alternative workplace for the same employer on the same day – for example, travelling from your fire station to a primary school to run a fire safety information session with students
  • from home directly to an alternative workplace – for example, travelling from home to a fire station that is not your regular work location.

If you have access to the car under a salary sacrifice arrangement or a novated lease, it is usually your employer who is leasing the vehicle from the financing company and making it available for your use. As you do not own or lease the car yourself, you can't claim any deductions for using the car, but can claim additional expenses, like parking and tolls associated with your work use of the car.

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 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. The Work-related car expenses calculator can 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 you aren't required to keep a logbook, it is the easiest way to do 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: claiming car expenses

Kate works as an emergency response firefighter and community educator. Her work base is at a fire station but she travels to schools most days to educate students. Kate uses her own car to travel from home to the station to login and pick up supplies, she then travels on to the schools she visits.

Kate can't claim a deduction for her travel between her home and the fire station. She can claim a deduction for her car expenses for the travel to and from the schools.

End of example

 

Example: travelling to other stations (alternative workplace)

Lucy works as a station officer in Sydney but is also a qualified firefighter. When a large scale emergency takes place in New South Wales, Lucy is called into work to assist. When she is called in, she travels from her home to the station nearest to the emergency.

Lucy can claim a deduction for driving to stations other than her regular station because the travel is to an alternative place of work.

End of example

 

Example: salary sacrifice car under a novated lease

Billy uses a salary sacrifice arrangement through his employer for a car under a novated lease. He drives to the station every day as well as using his car to attend meetings at a different station a couple of times a week.

Billy can't claim any of the expenses related to the running of his car as it is on a salary sacrifice arrangement and he does not own or lease the car.

If Billy was to use a car he owns, leases or hires he could claim a deduction for the cost of his travel from the station to the meetings.

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 a t-shirt, or business attire.

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 with protective features or functions you wear to protect you from specific risks of injury or illness at work. For example, steel-capped boots or fire-resistant 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.
  • 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: compulsory uniform with logo

Ryan is a senior firefighter in Queensland and is regularly interviewed by the media. When Ryan is interviewed, his employer requires that he wear a shirt with the fire service logo on it (that they supply) and black pants.

Ryan can't claim the cost of the shirt as a deduction as it is supplied by his employer.

Ryan can't claim the black pants as a deduction as they are conventional clothing and the cost is private.

End of example

 

Example: compulsory uniform and protective clothing and footwear

Rajesh's employer requires him to wear his fire resistant hi-vis over pants and tunic over his compulsory uniform with his employer's logo. Rajesh must also wear fire resistant boots and a helmet when fighting fires. Rajesh employer supplies all their items.

Although the uniform is compulsory and some items of his uniform are protective in nature, Rajesh can't claim a deduction as he doesn't any costs.

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 to perform your work duties. For example, the cost you incur to get a heavy vehicle permit.

Example: claiming drivers licence

Shane must have a drivers licence and heavy vehicle permit to drive the fire truck. This is a condition of Shane's employment. His driver's licence renewal costs $45 per year and it costs $73 to renew his heavy vehicle permit.

Shane can't claim a deduction for the $45 to renew his drivers licence because it is a private expense.

Shane can claim the cost to renew his heavy vehicle permit ($73) as it's an additional expense he must incur to perform his duties as a firefighter.

End of example

Entertainment and social functions

You can't claim a deduction for the cost of any entertainment, fundraising or social functions. 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 do not have a direct connection to your work duties.

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

Fines and penalties

You can't claim a deduction for any fines or penalties you get when you travel to work or during work. Fines may include parking and speeding fines or penalties.

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 for the cost of first aid training courses if your employer pays for or reimburses you for the cost to attend.

Fitness expenses

You generally can’t claim gym and fitness expenses (such as skipping ropes, weights and other fitness equipment) even if you need to pass medical examinations and fitness tests to maintain your employment for your role. These are private expenses except in very limited circumstances.

You can claim a deduction, in very limited circumstances, where your role requires you to both:

  • maintain an extremely high level of fitness well above the general occupation standard
  • perform ongoing strenuous physical activities as an essential and regular part of your role.

You can’t in any circumstances claim a deduction for expenses you incur to buy conventional clothing you use in the course of keeping fit. This includes tracksuits, running or aerobic shoes, socks, sporting shirts or shorts.

Example: fitness expenses you can claim

Jim is a firefighter who works in a specialist search and rescue operations team. He is trained in a range of specialist skills, including structural collapses and tunnel emergencies.

Jim is regularly tested on his fitness and ongoing strenuous physical activity is an essential part of his job. Jim must maintain an extremely high level of fitness to fulfil his employment duties.

Jim can claim his fitness expenses, such as weights and gym fees that relate to maintaining his level of fitness well above the normal standard for firefighters.

End of example

 

Example: fitness expenses you can't claim

Paula is a junior general duties firefighter and regularly goes to the gym to keep fit.

Although Paula must maintain a standard level of fitness for her employment, she can't claim a deduction for fitness expenses. This is because her role doesn't require a fitness level well above the normal firefighter standard. Her gym fees are a private expense.

End of example

For more fire fighter expenses, see:

QC61558