Details on claiming common flight crew expenses.
You can't claim a deduction for prescription glasses or contact lenses, even if you need to wear them while working. 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.
You can't claim a deduction for hairdressing, cosmetics, hair and skin products, even though:
- you may receive an allowance for grooming
- your employer may expect you to be well groomed when at work.
All grooming expenses and products are private expenses.
However, you may be able to claim a deduction for rehydrating moisturiser and rehydrating hair conditioner to combat the drying effects on your skin and hair if:
- you work in harsh or abnormal working conditions, such as the pressurised environment of a plane
- it is a requirement of your employment that you be well-groomed.
You can only claim a deduction for the cost of the work-related portion of these products.
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 work out your claim. This isn't an automatic deduction.
Example: compulsory uniform with logo
Danielle is a flight attendant. She wears a compulsory uniform supplied by her employer with the company's monogram. The uniform is specific to her occupation as a flight attendant for the company and is not available for purchase by the general public.
Danielle can claim a deduction for the cost of laundering and maintaining the compulsory uniform. If she had to buy the compulsory uniform, she would also be able to claim a deduction for its cost.
She cleans her uniforms in a separate load of laundry twice a week. Danielle worked 48 weeks during the year. Her claim of $96 for laundry expenses is worked out as follows:
Number of claimable laundry loads per week × number of weeks × reasonable cost per load
2 × 48 × $1 = $96
As Danielle's laundry expenses are less than $150, she does not have to keep records.
Danielle also has a blazer as part of her compulsory uniform however this item requires dry-cleaning. She only wears the blazer through winter and only has it dry cleaned once a fortnight. The dry-cleaning costs her $21 and she dry cleans the blazer 4 times over the winter period.
Danielle can claim the cost of dry-cleaning her blazer as it is part of her compulsory uniform. Her dry-cleaning expenses are based on the actual cost she incurred for those services.
Danielle keeps her receipts from the dry cleaner to substantiate her claims. She calculates her claim as follows:
4 × $21 = $84End of example
You can claim a deduction for the cost of buying luggage to the extent of the work-related use of the luggage. This includes:
- travel bags
- overnight bags
- suit packs
- navigation bags
- luggage trolleys.
If you use luggage for travel overnight for work you can claim a deduction for the decline in value of the luggage if it cost more than $300. If it cost $300 or less, you can claim an immediate deduction for the cost of the luggage in the year you purchased it.
You need to apportion the cost of the luggage if it is used also for private travel.
Example: claiming luggage
Jeff is a flight attendant and buys a suitcase for $250. Jeff only uses the suitcase when he travels away overnight for work.
As the suitcase cost $300 or less, Jeff can claim a deduction of $250 in the year that he buys it.End of example
You can't claim a deduction for the cost of food, drink or snacks you consume in the course of 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: no deduction for food and drink
Jasmine is a domestic flight attendant who lives in Brisbane. On shifts where she returns home to Brisbane at the end of each shift, she buys a meal during her break.
Jasmine can't claim a deduction for the cost of her meals. The expenses are private.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 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 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 the 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 meal expenses
Felicity is a flight attendant. At 30 times during the income year Felicity works overtime after completing her normal shift. She receives an overtime meal break and overtime meal allowance of $20 under the award each time this occurs.
Felicity generally buys and eats a meal costing $15 during overtime which is less than the reasonable amount. Felicity's income statement shows the overtime meal allowances as a separate allowance totalling $600. That is, 30 overtime shifts × $20.
In her tax return, Felicity includes the allowance as income and claims a deduction. She works out her deduction as:
$15 × 30 overtime shifts = $450.
That is the actual amount she spent on overtime meals multiplied by the number of overtime shifts.
As the amount Felicity spent on her meals is less than the reasonable amount, she doesn't have to keep receipts. However, if asked, Felicity will have to show that she spent the $450 on overtime meals and how she worked out her 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 flight crew expenses, see: