Details on claiming fire fighter expenses for:
- Glasses, contact lenses and anti-glare glasses
- Grooming expenses
- Laundry and maintenance
- Meal and snack expenses
- Newspapers and other news services, magazines and professional publications
- Overtime meal expenses
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 as a fire fighter. Protective glasses include anti-glare or photochromatic glasses, sunglasses, safety glasses or goggles.
You can only claim a deduction for the work-related use of the item.
You can't claim a deduction for hairdressing, cosmetics, hair and skin care products, even though:
- you may receive an allowance for grooming and
- your employer may expect you to be well groomed when at work.
All grooming expenses and products are private expenses.
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 or general business attire
- 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 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 worked out your claim. This isn't an automatic deduction.
Example: laundry expenses for compulsory uniform
James is a general duties firefighter. His employer provides him with a compulsory uniform to wear in the course of performing his duties. This consists of utility pants, a shirt and jacket with the employer's logo on them. His employer also provides him with protective clothing (fire-proof tunic and over pants) to wear over his compulsory uniform when his unit is called out to fight a fire. James can claim a deduction for laundering his uniform.
James launders his uniforms once a week in a single load. He worked for 48 weeks of the income year.
James calculates his claim as follows:
1 × wash per week × $1 per load × 48 weeks of the year = $48.
As his total claim for laundry expenses is under $150, James doesn't need to keep written evidence of his laundry expenses. However, if asked, he will still need to explain how he calculates his claim.End of example
You can't claim a deduction for the cost of food, drinks 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: allowance received but no deduction for meal
Bob attends a factory fire and he remains on duty at the incident for a period of 2 hours. He is entitled to refreshments as per his Enterprise Bargaining Agreement.
Refreshments weren't provided by his employer and so Bob receives a refreshment allowance of $14.70. This allowance is shown on his income statement at the end of the income year.
Upon return to the station, Bob buys a meal for $12.80. Bob is required to declare the allowance as income but he can't claim a deduction for the cost of his meal. As the meal is bought and consumed during Bob's ordinary working hours, it's a private expense. Receiving an allowance doesn’t change this.End of example
Example: no deduction for meal
Ivy is a fire fighter. She starts work at 10:00 pm and works through until 6:00 am the following morning.
During her shift she has a meal break and buys a meal.
The cost of Ivy's meal is not deductible as she buys and eats it during her normal working hours. It is a private expense.End of example
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.
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
- how you work out your claim.
Example: spoilt meal allowance not an overtime meal allowance
On 10 occasions during the income year Aimee was called out to emergency situations before eating her meal during her meal break.
On each occasion, she receives an allowance of $16 to compensate her return to duty prior to eating. Although the allowance is paid under an award, the allowance isn't paid to enable Aimee to buy a meal during overtime.
Any amount Aimee incurs to replace her spoilt meals isn't deductible as these meals are consumed during ordinary working hours. These are private expenses.End of example
Example: deduction for overtime meal
On 20 occasions during the year Carl is asked to work overtime after completing his normal shift. He is given an overtime meal break and paid an overtime meal allowance of $32.50 under the award each time this occurs.
Carl generally buys and eats a meal costing $15 during overtime. This is less than the reasonable amount. At the end of the income year, Carl's income statement shows that he received overtime meal allowances totalling $650. That is, (20 × $32.50).
In his tax return, Carl includes the allowance as income and claims a deduction of $15 × 20 = $300. That is the amount he spent on overtime meals.
As the amount Carl spent on his meals is less than the reasonable amount, Carl doesn't have to keep receipts. However, if asked, Carl will have to show that he spent the $300 on overtime meals and how he calculated his claim.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 fire fighter expenses, see: