Details on claiming hospitality industry employee expenses for:
- Glasses, contact lenses and anti-glare glasses
- Grooming expenses
- Hiring equipment
- Laundry and maintenance
- Licences, permits and cards
- Meal and snack expenses
- Overtime meal 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 can only claim a deduction for the work-related use of the item.
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.
All grooming products are private expenses.
You can claim a deduction for the cost of hiring equipment that you use for carrying out your employment duties. However, if you also use the equipment you hire for private purposes, you can only claim a deduction for your work-related use.
Example: no deduction for hiring equipment
Narendra is an employee caterer. His employer asks him to work at a food festival. On the day of the festival, Narendra finds that the bain-marie his employer has given him to use is not working.
Narendra's employer and ask Narendra him to stop by the hire place they use on his way to the festival to hire a bain-marie for the day. Narendra pays $80 to hire the bain-marie and his employer reimburses him for the cost.
Narendra can't claim a deduction for hiring the bain-marie because even though he uses it for work, the hire cost.
If Narendra's employer doesn't reimburse him, he can claim a deduction for the cost of hiring the bain-marie.End of example
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, an apron to protect your clothes
- occupation specific and not a conventional, everyday piece of clothing such as jeans or general business attire
- a uniform either non-compulsory 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 to show how you calculated your claim. This isn't an automatic deduction.
Example: work clothing laundered and maintained by employer
Cassidy is a waitress at a high-end restaurant in the city. Her employer requires her to wear a white business shirt and either a black dress skirt or pants. Her employer provides Cassidy with these items and the outfit remains at the restaurant. Her employer launders these items to keep them in good condition.
Cassidy can't claim a deduction for laundry costs as she doesn't incur any expense for laundering the outfit.
Even if Cassidy was responsible for washing and maintaining the outfit herself, she couldn't claim a deduction for laundry expenses. This is because these items are conventional everyday clothing worn by people regardless of their occupation.End of example
Example: uniform laundry expenses
Sali works in a fast-food restaurant where he is required to wear a compulsory uniform. He washes and dries the uniform in a separate load of washing twice a week. Sali works 46 weeks during the year.
His claim of $92 for laundry expenses is worked out as follows:
Number of claimable laundry loads per week × number of weeks = total number of claimable laundry loads
2 × 46 = 92
Total number of claimable laundry loads × reasonable cost per load = total claim amount
92 × $1 = $92
As his total claim for laundry expenses is under $150 ($92), Sali doesn't need to provide written evidence of his laundry expenses. Although, Sali doesn't need evidence to prove his claim for laundry, if asked, he will still need to explain how he calculates the claim.End of example
You can’t claim the cost of getting your initial licence, regulatory permit, cards or certificates to get a job. For example, Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) certificate.
You can claim a deduction for the additional costs you incur to renew your licence, regulatory permit, card or certificate to continue to perform your work duties. For example, if you need to have a Responsible Service of Alcohol certificate, you can’t claim the initial cost of getting it. However, you can claim the cost of renewing it during the period you are working.
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).
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 enterprise 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 shown 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 received 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 all 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
Penny is a drinks waitress for a catering company that does corporate events. Penny is part-time and works Thursday to Sunday each week between 10:00 am and 9:00 pm.
Penny is asked to work for an additional 3 hours when a catering event runs overtime to help clean up and pack away the catering equipment. She is given a meal break and paid a meal allowance of $20 under her enterprise bargaining agreement. Penny's employer shows the allowance on her income statement.
Penny takes her break while the event wraps up and buys and eats a meal costing her $21 which is less than the reasonable amount.
Penny must include the allowance as income in her tax return.
Penny can claim a deduction of $21 for the cost of the meal she eats during her overtime meal break. As the amount she is claiming is less than the reasonable amount, she does not need to keep a receipt for her overtime meal.End of example
Example: food consumed after overtime
Kieran is asked to work 3 hours overtime after finishing his normal bartending shift. He is given a meal break and is paid a meal allowance of $21 under his enterprise agreement. Kieran goes for a walk rather than buying and eating a meal.
After his overtime shift finishes, he buys some food on the way home.
Kieran can't claim a deduction for the meal he buys after the overtime shift finishes, as the expense was not incurred in the course of earning his employment income.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 hospitality industry employee expenses, see: