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Guards and security employees expenses A–F

Last updated 9 June 2023

Details on claiming common guard and security employee expenses.

Car expenses

You can't claim a car expenses deduction for the 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
  • work outside normal business hours – for example, you're on-call, work weekends 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.

You're 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.

To be able to claim a deduction for the cost of trips between home and work while carrying bulky tools or 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 the 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 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, from your first job as a security guard directly to your second job as a bartender
  • to and from an alternative workplace for the same employer on the same day – for example, between different venues where you perform your duties as a security guard.

You can’t claim a deduction when using a badged or unbadged vehicle provided by your employer, unless you covered the cost of fuel, were not reimbursed by your employer, and the cost was a result of you performing your employment duties.

You can't claim car expenses for a car you use under a salary sacrifice or novated lease arrangement. This is because it's usually your employer leasing the car from the financing company and making it available for your use. You can, however, claim additional work-related expenses you incur that are associated with your work use of the car such as parking and tolls.

To claim a deduction, you must keep records of your car use. You can choose between the cents per kilometre method or the logbook 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 evidence of your car expenses.

If you use the cents per kilometre method, you need to be able to show how you worked 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 are not required to keep a logbook, it is the easiest way to calculate your work-related use.

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: no deduction for home to work travel

Winston is a security guard who works during the week at a bank in the city. Winston drives his own car into the city and parks in a secure parking centre. He wears his security guard uniform to work and carries a duffel bag containing a change of clothes, a pair of sneakers as well as his lunch and a drink bottle.

Winston can't claim any expenses relating to driving his car from home to work as the bag and its contents aren't essential to perform his employment duties and they aren't bulky. Even if the items were essential, the bag and its contents are not awkward to transport due to their size and weight and a motor vehicle is not the only way to transport them conveniently.

End of example


Example: travelling to work outside of regular hours

Penelope is an employee of a security company and works at the front desk of a high-rise office building. She typically works the day roster from 7:00 am until 2:00 pm. Penelope finishes work and returns home at the end of the day.

At 6:00 pm, she receives a phone call and is asked to return to work to backfill a colleague who has called in sick.

Even though Penelope is travelling to work outside her regular hours she can’t claim a deduction, it's still private travel between home and her regular workplace.

End of example


Example: on call with no fixed place of work

Edward is an employee of a large security firm. He is employed as a relief security guard so Edward is on call. When an employee is unavailable for their shift, Edward is called in to cover it.

In a normal week, Edward gets called into work 4 or 5 times and on each occasion, he works at a different location.

Edward can't claim a deduction for the cost of travelling between his home and each work location. The travel is undertaken to put Edward in the position start work.

Although Edward has no fixed place of work, Edward does not have shifting places of his employment. Travel is not a fundamental part of his employment and once he reports for duty, he stays at that location for the duration of his shift.

End of example

Child care

You can't claim a deduction for 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, black pants and a white shirt worn by security guards.

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 that has protective features or functions that you wear to protect yourself from specific risks of injury or illness at work. For example, bullet-proof vest or high-vis vest. 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 and 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

Koen is a security guard. His employer requires him to wear a black polo shirt embroidered with their logo, plain black pants and black enclosed shoes when he is at work.

During the year Koen buys 2 of the polo shirts from his employer, three pairs of plain black pants and 2 pairs of black enclosed shoes that he only wears to work.

Koen can claim a deduction for the cost of buying the shirts as they are:

  • distinctive items with the employer's logo
  • compulsory for him to wear at work.

He can't claim a deduction for the cost of buying the black pants or shoes as they are items of a conventional nature even though he only wears them at work.

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.

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.

Firearms and guns

Where there is a direct connection to your work duties as a guard or security employee, you can claim a deduction for the:

  • decline in value of firearms and guns
  • maintenance of firearms and guns
  • cost of ammunition
  • costs you incur to renew a gun licence.

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

Example: deduction for a firearm

Trang is an employee security guard. Due to the danger he faces while carrying out his duties, Trang is required to carry a firearm so he buys one at a cost of $1,200.

Trang's employer pays him a firearm allowance of $750, which is included on his income statement at the end of the income year.

Trang can claim a deduction for the decline in value of his firearm over its effective life. Trang must also include the firearm allowance of $750 in his tax return as income.

End of example

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 if your employer pays for or reimburses you for the cost of the course.

Fitness expenses

You can't claim a deduction for health and fitness expenses because they are private expenses. This includes:

  • gym fees and conventional clothing worn at the gym including tracksuits, running or aerobic shoes, socks, sporting shirts or shorts
  • the cost of a program specifically designed to manage weight
  • the cost of normal food substitutes or the cost of food for special dietary purposes
  • the cost of vitamins, minerals or sports supplements, such as protein shakes.

Example: no deduction for gym fees or protein shakes

Benita works as a security guard in an office building. Her main duties are to ensure only authorised people enter the building, opening up the building in the morning and securing it at night.

Benita likes to keep fit so she joins her local gym and regularly consumes protein shakes.

Benita can't claim a deduction for her gym fees or the cost of her protein shakes. The expenses are private.

End of example

For more guard and security employee expenses, see:

Guards and security employees expenses G–O

Details on claiming common guard and security employee expenses for:

Glasses, contact lenses and anti-glare glasses

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 can only claim a deduction for the work-related use of the item.

Grooming expenses

You can't claim a deduction for hairdressing, cosmetics, hair and skin care products, even though:

  • you may receive an allowance for grooming
  • your employer expects you to be well groomed when at work.

All grooming expenses and products are private expenses

Guard dog expenses

You generally can't claim guard dog expenses, unless:

  • your work duties require you to use a guard dog
  • it is a requirement of your employment that you provide your own guard dog
  • you train the dog to be a guard dog from a young age
  • the dog is only for use at work and isn't treated like your pet or your family's pet.

Ongoing guard dog expenses include food, veterinary expenses and registration costs.

You can't claim a deduction for the initial cost of buying the dog. The initial cost is a capital expense. However, you can claim the decline in value of the dog over its effective life.

You can't claim a deduction if your employer provides the dog or pays for its costs.

Example: guard dog not connected to employment

Gabby is a security officer who owns a German shepherd as a guard dog for her protection at home. Gabby can't claim a deduction for maintaining the dog as it is a private expense.

End of example

Laundry and maintenance

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
  • 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 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: laundry expenses

Jelani is a prison guard. Her employer provides all staff with compulsory uniforms. She cleans her uniforms as a separate load of washing twice a week. Jelani worked for 48 weeks during the year.

Jelani can claim a deduction for cleaning her uniforms as they are compulsory for her to wear at work.

Jelani's 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

End of example

Licences, permits and cards

You can’t claim the cost of getting your initial licence, regulatory permit, cards or certificates to get a job. For example, your private security licence.

You can claim a deduction for the additional costs you incur to get or renew your licence, regulatory permit, card or certificate to continue to perform your work duties.

Example: security licence

William is a trainee security guard on probation. On satisfactory completion of the relevant units of competency for obtaining his security licence, William will be made a permanent offer of employment.

William completes the relevant units of competency and applies for his security licence. The initial cost of obtaining the licence is $160. The licence has to be renewed each year at a cost of $140.

William can't claim a deduction of $160 for the initial cost of his security licence. When William renews his security licence a year later, he can claim a deduction for the renewal fee of $140.

End of example

Meal and snack expenses

You can't claim a deduction for the cost of food, drink 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: no deduction for food and drink consumed

Elsa is a security guard at a night club. As she works in the evening, she purchases dinner when she has her meal break.

Elsa can't claim a deduction for the cost of food and drinks she buys when she is on her meal break. The food and drink is consumed during her normal shift and are private in nature.

End of example

Overtime meal expenses

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. This is called 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 and how you worked out your claim.

Example: deduction for overtime meal

Ravi is a security officer and 30 times during the year Ravi works overtime after completing his normal 8-hour shift. He receives an overtime meal break and overtime meal allowance of $20 under the award each time this occurs.

Ravi generally buys and eats a meal costing $15 during overtime. Ravi's income statement shows the overtime meal allowances as a separate allowance totalling $600. That is, 30 overtime shifts × $20.

In his tax return, Ravi includes the allowance as income and claims a deduction. He works out his deduction as:

$15 × 30 overtime shifts = $450

That is the actual amount he spent on overtime meals multiplied by the number of overtime shifts.

As the amount Ravi spent on his meals is less than the reasonable amount, he doesn't have to keep receipts. However, if asked, Ravi will have to show that he spent the $450 on overtime meals and how he works out 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 guard and security employee expenses, see: