Details on claiming common guard and security employee expenses for:
- Tools and equipment
- Travel expenses
- Union and professional association fees
- Working from home expenses
You can only claim a deduction for the work-related use of tools and equipment if you use the item to perform your work duties.
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 tools and equipment
Percy is a security guard in a large office building. His role requires him to carry a flashlight, swipe card, radio and keys with him at all times. Percy accesses a number of floors in the building by swipe card or key, to set alarms and turn off the lights at the end of the day. He is also required to be at the building at 4:00 am so that the building is accessible when employees arrive.
Percy carries the flashlight so that he can see where he is going in the building as he undertakes his tasks.
Percy buys a utility belt for $89 to carry his flashlight, swipe card, keys and mobile phone when away from the guard's desk.
As Percy uses the utility belt solely for work related purposes, the item cost less than $300 and he isn't reimbursed by his employer, he can claim an immediate deduction for the cost of the utility belt ($89).End of example
Example: equipment not deductible
Olivia is a security guard for a shopping complex providing hourly security checks overnight. She drives a car around the complex confirming the front and back entrances are secure.
Olivia uses a travel mug to drink out of while she is driving to avoid spills. She also purchased a thermos to take coffee to work with her as there are no shops open late at night in the area.
Olivia can't claim a deduction for her travel mug or thermos. Items used to take food and drinks to work are private expenses.End of example
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 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, when you travel interstate to attend a work-related conference, seminar or training course.
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
- 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
- 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 received a travel allowance from your employer for the expenses
- your deduction is less than the Commissioner’s reasonable amount.
If you claim a deduction for more than the Commissioner’s reasonable amount you need to keep receipts for all expenses, not just for the amount over the Commissioner’s reasonable amount.
Even if you are not required to keep written evidence such as receipts, you must be able to explain your claim and show you spent the amounts.
Example: reasonable allowance amount
Antoni travels from Adelaide to Mt Gambier for a job and was away from home for 5 nights. His employer pays him a travel allowance of $110 per night for accommodation, meals and incidental expenses. The allowance isn't shown on his income statement.
The travel allowance amount paid to Antoni is less than the reasonable allowance amount. Antoni spends all of the travel allowance on his travel expenses.
Antoni doesn't include his travel allowance on his tax return because:
- it's less than the reasonable allowance amount
- it's not shown on his income statement
- he spends it all to cover his travel expenses.
This means Antoni can't claim a deduction for his travel expenses on his tax return.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 claim a deduction for union and professional association fees you pay. If the amount you paid is shown on your income statement or payment summary, you can use it to prove your claim.
You may be able to claim a deduction for working from home expenses you incur as an employee. These can be additional running expenses such as electricity, the decline in value of equipment or furniture, phone and internet expenses. You must:
- use one of the methods set out by us to calculate your deduction
- keep the records required for the method you choose.
There are some expenses you can't claim a deduction for as an employee. Employees who work at home can't claim costs:
- for coffee, tea, milk and other general household items your employer may provide you at work
- for your children and their education including
- setting them up for online learning
- teaching them at home
- buying equipment such as iPads and desks
- your employer pays for or reimburses you for the expense
- for the decline in value of items provided by your employer – for example, a laptop or a phone.
Generally you can’t claim occupancy expenses (rent, rates, mortgage interest and house insurance premiums), unless your home office is:
- your only place of work because no other work location is provided by your employer
- exclusively or almost exclusively used for work purposes.
You can’t claim a deduction if your employer paid for your home office to be set up or they reimbursed you for the expense.
You also can't claim a deduction for your working from home expenses if you are only carrying out minimal tasks, such as checking your shift times.
The Home office expenses calculator helps you work out the amount you can claim as a deduction for home office expenses.
For more information, see:
- PS LA 2001/6 Verification approaches for home office and electronic device expenses
- TR 93/30 Income tax: deductions for home office expenses
- PCG 2023/1 Claiming a deduction for additional running expenses incurred while working from home - ATO compliance approach
For more guard and security employee expenses, see: