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Fire fighter expenses P–S

Last updated 9 June 2023

Details on claiming fire fighter expenses.

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

Terry drives his own car to work each day and parks in the secure parking centre down the street from the fire station where he works.

Once a month Terry drives his car to a training facility to complete mandatory training, required for his role as the station health and safety representative. He pays for parking and isn't reimbursed by his employer.

Terry can't claim the cost he incurs parking at his regular place of work. However, he is able to claim his parking at the training facility as this is incurred 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 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 travelling for work. This is because these are personal phone calls.

For more information, see:

Example: calculating phone expenses

Sebastian uses his mobile phone for work purposes. He is on a set plan of $69 a month and rarely exceeds the plan cap.

He receives an itemised account from his phone provider each month that includes details of his individual phone calls.

At least once a year, Sebastian prints out his account and highlights the work-related phone calls he made. He makes notes on his account for the first month about who he's phoning for work – for example, his manager and his colleagues.

Out of the 300 phone calls he has made in a four-week period, Sebastian works out that 30 (10%) of the individual phone call expenses billed to him are for work and applies that percentage to his cap amount of $69 a month.

He works out his phone calls for work purposes as follows:

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

30 ÷ 300 = 0.10 (that is 10%)

Sebastian can claim 30% of the total bill of $69 for each month for work purposes, which is:

$69 × 0.10 = $6.90

Since Sebastian was only at work for 46 weeks of the year (10.6 months), he calculates his work-related mobile phone expense deduction as follows:

10.6 months × $6.90 = $73.14

End of example

 

Example: work and private use

Sylvette uses her computer and personal internet account at home to access her emails, complete training and keep up to date with new procedures. Sylvette also uses her computer and the internet for private purposes.

Sylvette's internet use diary showed 10% of her internet time was for work-related activities and 90% was for private use. As her internet service provider charge for the year was $1,200 she can claim:

$1,200 × 0.10 = $120 as work-related internet use.

If anyone else accesses the internet connection, Sylvette must reduce her claim to account for their use.

End of example

Removal and relocation expenses

You can’t claim a deduction for the cost to transfer or relocate to a new work location. This is the case whether the move is a condition of your existing job or you are taking up a new job.

Example: relocation due to transfer

Caitlyn is a firefighter in Sydney. She is temporarily transfers to Newcastle for 2 years.

Caitlyn can't claim a deduction for her relocation costs, rent or other living expenses.

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 they directly relate to your employment as a fire fighter and at the time you incur the expense it:

  • maintains or improves the skills and knowledge you need for your current duties – for example, first aid updates or Certificate 4 in public safety (firefighting supervision)
  • 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 you incur the expense 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: education related to current employment

Jane is an employee firefighter. She is doing a Certificate of Fire Technology. When she completes the course, she will be paid additional salary and wages in the form of a qualification allowance.

Jane can claim a deduction for the cost of this course as:

  • there is sufficient connection with her current income-earning activities and
  • the study will result in an increase in her income from her current employment.
End of example

Seminars, conferences and training courses

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

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: work-related training course

Ethan is a firefighter in Adelaide. He enrols in a respond to urban fire course which is run over 2 days at the Australasia Fire & Emergency Response college in Sydney.

Ethan's employer pays for his flights, the training course and his accommodation and meals while he attends the college.

Even though the course is related to Ethan's current income earning activities, he can't claim a deduction for the training course or his airfares, accommodation and meals while he is attending the course. The expenses are paid directly by his employer so he does not incur any expenses.

End of example

Stationery

You can claim a deduction for the cost of stationery, such as logbooks, diaries and pens that you buy and use for work.

You can't claim a deduction if your employer pays for or reimburses you for these expenses.

Sunglasses, sunhats and sunscreens

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 you 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 the products if you also wear them for private purposes.

Example: claiming sunglasses

Harold regularly works outside to assess fire hazards and risks. He wears sunglasses for protection against the glare of the sun and damage to his eyes. He also needs to wear prescription glasses while driving for his short-sightedness.

He buys a pair of prescription sunglasses to wear while he is working outdoors. He also buys a pair of untinted prescription glasses to wear while he is working in the office.

Harold can claim a deduction for the prescription sunglasses, but not for the untinted prescription glasses. If he wears the prescription sunglasses when he isn't working, he must also apportion the deduction between private and work-related use.

End of example

For more fire fighter expenses, see:

QC61558