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Lawyer expenses G–O

Details on claiming lawyer expenses.

Last updated 2 June 2024

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 anti-glare glasses if you wear them to reduce the real and likely risk of illness or injury while working as a lawyer.

Gifts and greeting cards

You can't claim a deduction for the cost of gifts and greeting cards you buy for clients. This is a private expense.

Grooming expenses

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

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

All grooming expenses and products are private expenses.

Insurance expenses

Insurance expenses aren't work-related expenses; however, you may still be able to claim a deduction for:

  • insurance premiums you pay to cover yourself for loss of employment income
  • the cost of professional indemnity insurance.

Example: apportioning insurance deduction

Dee takes out an income protection and personal injury policy through her insurer. She pays $250 a month, $175 of this is for the income protection cover and $75 is for the personal injury cover.

Dee can claim $175 a month for the insurance policy. The remaining $75 is not deductible, because it is capital in nature.

End of example


Example: when professional indemnity insurance is not deductible

Ezra is required to have professional indemnity insurance in his role as a lawyer. As part of his salary package, his employer has agreed to pay his insurance each year he is employed at the firm.

As Ezra didn't incur the expense he can't claim a deduction.

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 such as a business suit
  • a uniform either non-compulsory and registered by your employer on the Register of Approved Occupational Clothing 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. However, you will still need to calculate and be able to show how you worked out your claim. This isn't an automatic deduction.

Example: deductible compulsory uniform

Angela is a lawyer in a legal firm. Her employer requires that she buys shirts with the company logo to be worn at work. She is also required to comply with dress standards and wear smart black pants or a skirt.

Angela can claim a deduction for buying and laundering her work shirts as the logo makes them unique and distinctive to the organisation where she works.

Angela can't claim a deduction for her work pants and skirts even though she only wears them to work. Black pants and skirts without a logo or other distinctive feature are not unique to the organisation.

Angela works for 40 weeks of the income year and washes her shirts twice a week in a mixed load with other clothes. As Angela washes her uniform in a mixed load she can claim 50 cents per load of laundry where her uniform is included in the wash.

Angela calculates her laundry claim as follows:

2 × 40 weeks × $0.50 per load = $40

End of example


Example: conventional clothing not deductible

Gavin is a solicitor in a law firm. As part of his work duties, Gavin meets with clients and attends court hearings. Gavin is expected to maintain a professional appearance so he buys business shirts and suits that he only wears to work.

Even though Gavin wears these items to work, he can't claim a deduction for the cost of buying or laundering of the shirts and suits he buys, as they are conventional clothes and not occupation specific, protective or a uniform.

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
  • the cost of meals you incur when you are travelling overnight for the purpose of carrying out your employment duties (travel expenses).

Example: buying food at work not deductible

Scarlett is a solicitor and works evenings drafting documents and conducting legal research. During her shift, Scarlett gets a 30 minute break. While she is on her break, she buys dinner and some water and peanuts to snack on throughout the rest of her shift.

Scarlett can't claim a deduction for the snacks or evening meal. The cost of the food and drink she buys is private and has no relevant connection to her employment activities.

End of example

Newspapers and other news services, magazines and professional publications

The cost of newspapers and other news services, magazines and professional publications are generally private expenses and not deductible.

You can claim a deduction for the cost of buying or subscribing to a professional publication newspaper, news service 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.

Example: professional publication deductible

Tania is an employee taxation lawyer in a large company. Tania subscribes to the Taxation in Australia journal to keep up to date with changes.

Tania can claim a deduction for the cost of subscribing to the journal. The content of the publication is specific to Tania's employment and there is a direct connection between her work duties and the publication.

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 or payment summary 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 or payment summary.

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 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

Moana normally works an 8 hour shift. During the preparation for a case she is asked to work for an additional 3 hours to complete some research. Moana is given a meal break and paid a meal allowance of $20 under her enterprise agreement. The allowance is shown on her income statement.

Moana buys and eats a meal costing her $21 during her overtime. The reasonable amount for overtime meals is $32.50.

Moana must declare the overtime meal allowance as income in her tax return.

Moana can claim a deduction of $21 as the amount she spent on the meal she eats while on duty for extended hours is incurred in earning her employment income.

As Moana's deduction is less than the reasonable amount, Moana does not have to keep written evidence for her claim. However, she needs to be able to show how she works out her claim and that she spent the money.

End of example

For more information, see TD 2023/3 Income tax: what are the reasonable travel and overtime meal allowance expense amounts for the 2023–24 income year?

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