Details on claiming common flight crew expenses.
You can claim a deduction for transport costs if you travel in the course of performing your work. For example, taking a taxi from your regular workplace to another work location.
You can’t claim a deduction for travel expenses between home and work, these are private expenses.
You can't claim a deduction if your employer reimburses you for these expenses.
You can claim a deduction for tools and equipment you use to perform your duties as flight crew. For example, if you purchase a portable USB charger for your electronic devices.
You can only claim a deduction for the work-related use of the item.
If the tool or equipment cost you $300 or less, you can claim a deduction for the full amount in the year you buy it, if:
- you use it mainly for work purposes
- it's not part of a set that together cost more than $300.
You can claim a deduction for the cost over the life of the item (that is, decline in value), if the tool or equipment:
- cost more than $300
- is part of a set that together cost more than $300.
If you bought the tool or item of equipment part way through the year, you can only claim a deduction for the decline in value for the period of the income year that you own it. To work out your deduction use the Depreciation and capital allowances tool.
You can also claim a deduction for the cost of repairs to tools and equipment that you use for work purposes.
You can’t claim a deduction for tools and equipment that your employer or a third party supplies for use.
Example: deductible equipment under $300
Bobby works as cabin crew on long haul international flights. He buys a rechargeable torch for $130 to carry out his duties when the cabin lights are dimmed. He can claim an immediate deduction for the torch in the income year he purchases it, as it costs$300 or less.End of example
You can't claim a deduction for the cost of transporting your luggage to and from the airport as this is a private expense.
You can claim a deduction for travel expenses you incur when your work requires you to both:
- travel for work
- sleep away from your home overnight, or take your mandatory long rest break, in the course of performing your employment duties.
Expenses you can claim include your accommodation, meals and expenses which are incidental to the travel (incidentals). For example, flying overseas and taking your mandatory rest break at the destination before completing the return leg home.
You can't claim a deduction for travel expenses where you don't incur any expenses, because:
- you slept in accommodation your employer provides
- you eat meals your employer provides, for example you eat a meal on the plane
- your employer or a third party reimburses you for any costs you incur.
Receiving an allowance from your employer doesn't automatically mean you can claim a deduction. In all cases, you must be able to show:
- you were away overnight or took your mandatory long rest break
- you have spent the money
- the travel directly relates to earning your employment income
- how you work out your claim.
If you receive a travel allowance you must include it as assessable income in your tax return unless all of the following apply:
- the travel allowance is not on your income statement or payment summary
- the travel allowance doesn't exceed the Commissioner's reasonable amount
- you spent the whole allowance on deductible accommodation, meal and incidental expenses, if applicable.
The Commissioner's reasonable amount is set each year. The amount is used to determine whether an exception from keeping written evidence applies for the following expenses which are covered by a travel allowance:
You don’t have to keep written evidence such as receipts if both of the following apply:
- you receive a travel allowance from your employer for the expenses
- your deduction is less than the Commissioner’s reasonable amount.
If your deduction is for more than the Commissioner’s reasonable amount you need to keep written evidence for all your expenses, not just the amount over the reasonable amount.
Even if you're not required to keep written evidence such as receipts, you must be able to explain your claim and show you spent the amounts.
Example: international travel expenses
Wendy works for a commercial airline and flies internationally. Wendy is based at Sydney airport and is regularly rostered to fly from Sydney to Fiji and return. Her flight to Fiji leaves Sydney at 9:00 am and arrives in Fiji at 2:10 pm (local time). The return flight doesn't depart until the following day, leaving Fiji at 6:00 pm (local time) and arriving at Sydney at 9:50 pm.
Wendy is required to report to the airport 90 minutes before to her shift.
As Wendy is required to stay in Fiji and sleep away from home overnight, her employer provides accommodation and transport to and from her hotel.
Wendy’s employer pays her an allowance to cover her meal expenses. She receives:
- $45 for dinner on the first night in Fiji
- $25 for breakfast
- $35 for lunch.
She also receives an allowance of $20 for incidental expenses for the 2 days she is away from home. Wendy is provided lunch on the flight over and dinner on the flight back, so she isn’t paid an allowance for these meals.
Wendy spends $25 on breakfast at the hotel, $30 on lunch and $50 on dinner. Wendy incurs incidentals of $15 per trip.
During the year, Wendy completes this same shift 25 times. At the end of the year, her employer shows the allowance on her income statement (25 × $125 = $3,125). Wendy declares the allowance of $3,125 as income in her tax return.
Wendy can claim a deduction of $3,000 [($25 + $30 + $50 + $15) × 25] for meals and incidentals as she is required to travel to Fiji in the course of performing her employment duties.
Because Wendy has spent less than the reasonable allowance amount, Wendy doesn't have to substantiate (get and keep receipts) her expenses however she will be required to show how she calculated the amount of 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?
You can't claim a deduction for travel insurance as this is a private expense.
You can claim a deduction for union and professional association fees you pay. You can use your income statement as evidence of the amount you pay if it's shown on there.
You can't claim a deduction for the cost of vaccinations to protect you from infectious diseases in the workplace. This is a personal medical expense.
You can claim the cost of visa application fees when you're required to enter a country as part of your job, and your employer does not reimburse you.
You can't claim a deduction for the cost of buying or maintaining watches or smart watches, even if they are required as part of your uniform. This is a private expense.
However, you can claim a deduction if your watch has special characteristics that you use for a work-related purpose. For example, a nurse's fob watch.
If the watch cost more than $300, you can claim a deduction for its decline in value over the effective life.
You can claim a deduction for the cost of repairs, batteries and watchbands for special watches. You only claim a deduction for the amount you use the item at work if you also wear it for private purposes.
Similar to ordinary watches, a smart watch (that connects to a phone or other device to provide notifications, apps and GPS, for example) is a private expense and not deductible under ordinary circumstances.
However, if you require some of the smart watch's functions as an essential part of your employment activities you may be able to apportion the expense between your private and work use. In order to show your work-related use of the watch, you will need to keep a diary or similar record of your use of the watch for a representative period.
Example: smart watch not deductible
Bree works as flight crew on mainly international routes. Bree buys a smart watch so it is easier for her to check messages sent to her phone while away from home. She receives both private and work-related messages through the smart watch.
Bree can't claim a deduction for the smart watch. The ability to check messages on her phone with her watch is not a part of her employment duties and the cost of the watch is not a deductible expense for her work.End of example
For more flight crew expenses, see: