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Media professional expenses A–F

Last updated 11 June 2023

Details on claiming media professional expenses.

Bags and cases for work items

If you use a bag or a case – for example a briefcase, to carry items for work, you are entitled to a deduction to the extent that it is used for work purposes. Work items may include laptops, legal documents and briefs and protective gear but do not include private and domestic items like gym gear, food or a personal phone or tablet. To be deductible, your job must require you to transport work items and the bag must be suitable for that purpose.

If the bag or case cost you $300 or less, and you use it for work only, you can claim a deduction for the whole cost of the bag in the year you purchase it.

If the bag or case cost more than $300, you can claim a deduction for its decline in value over the bag's or case's effective life.

If you use the bag or case to carry both work and private items, you need to apportion the expense between work-related and private use, and you can only claim the work-related portion.

Example: deduction for bag used for work purposes

Maria is a political reporter. Her job requires her to report on current political events online. She regularly attends different locations where ministers are discussing or announcing policy and is required to take her work laptop and phone so she can report these updates in real time.

She buys a bag for $565 that she uses exclusively to carry her work laptop, mobile phone, and chargers. She carries her wallet, personal phone and other personal items in a smaller clutch bag.

As Maria uses her bag exclusively for work purposes, carries all the items necessary in her role as a political reporter, Maria can claim a deduction for the decline in value of the bag over its effective life.

End of example

Car expenses

You can't claim a car expense deduction for 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
  • have to work outside normal business hours – for example, weekend 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 also can't claim a deduction when using a badged or unbadged vehicle provided by your employer, unless you were using the vehicle to perform your work duties and you covered the cost of fuel. You can't claim a deduction if your employer reimburses you for any costs.

You can 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, travelling from your job with a newspaper to your second job as a TV presenter
  • to and from an alternative workplace for the same employer on the same day – for example, if you need to conduct an interview with a source at a location external from your workplace or driving between two TV studios
  • from your home to an alternative workplace for the same employer on the same day – for example, if you drive from home to meet with a source and then go onto the office.

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 written evidence of your car expenses.

If you use the cents per kilometre method, you need to be able to show how you work 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 helps calculate the amount you can claim as a deduction for car expenses.

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 aren’t required to keep a logbook, it is the easiest way to do calculate your work-related use of the vehicle.

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: using own car for work-related purposes

Jose must attend a half day training course on modern trends in journalism. Jose travels directly from his home to the training centre and then onto the office. Jose uses his own vehicle to attend the training.

Jose can claim a deduction for the car expenses he incurs when travelling from:

  • his home to the training centre
  • from the training centre to his office.

The training centre is an alternative place of work.

Jose can't claim a deduction for the car expenses he incurs when travelling from his office to home at the end of his working day. These are private expenses.

End of example

Child care

You can't claim a deduction for the cost of 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, business attire worn by media professionals.

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 with protective features and functions that you wear to protect you from specific risks of injury or illness at work. For example, cleaning aprons, non-slip shoes or smocks worn to stop you coming into contact with harmful substance. 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, closed shoes.
  • occupation-specific – clothing that distinctly identifies you as a person associated 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

Mike is a cameraman with a television network. His employer provides him with polo shirts with the network's logo on it that he is required to wear when performing work duties. He is also required to wear plain black pants and enclosed shoes to maintain a professional appearance.

Mike can't claim a deduction for his work polo shirts as these are supplied by his employer and Mike doesn't incur any cost for these.

Mike also can't claim a deduction for the cost of buying or cleaning his black pants and shoes as they are conventional clothes.

Mike can, however, claim a deduction for the cost of laundering the shirts as they are:

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

 

Example: conventional clothing

Lena is a radio presenter and wears her everyday clothing to work. Her employer has a dress code for all staff to follow when performing their work duties.

Lena can't claim a deduction for the cost of buying or cleaning the clothes because they are private in nature.

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.

Entertainment and social functions

You can claim a deduction for the cost you incur, if as a media professional you are required to attend a social function such as a dinner or similar event and perform work duties.

You can't claim a deduction for the cost of entertainment, fundraising or social functions if you are not performing work duties. This applies even if they are compulsory, non-compulsory or you discuss work matters at the event.

Entertainment and social functions include the cost of:

  • work breakfasts, lunches or dinners
  • attendance at sporting events as a spectator
  • gala or social nights
  • concerts or dances
  • cocktail parties
  • other similar types of functions or events.

These are private expenses because these events don't have a direct connection to your work duties.

You also can’t claim the cost of travelling to and from functions.

Example: entertainment costs deductible

Edwina, a reporter for a major magazine, is responsible for the magazine's social and society pages. In order to gather the necessary information for her articles, she is required to attend a number of social functions each year, regarded as important to city socialites. Edwina works the entire time she is at the function.

Edwina can claim a deduction for the cost of attending these functions due to the specialised nature of her work as a media professional.

End of example

 

Example: entertainment costs not deductible

Rachael incurs the expense to attend a media professional's breakfast function that is held quarterly to encourage media professionals to meet socially and network with colleagues.

Rachael can't claim a deduction for the cost of attending the breakfast.

End of example

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.

Example: no deduction for fine

Chris is a crime reporter. While driving from the studio to the Court to provide an update on a case, Chris runs a red light because he is running late. Chris is later issued with a fine which he pays.

Chris can't claim a deduction for the fine even though he was travelling for work purposes at the time the offence occurred.

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.

For more media professionals' expenses, see:

QC51250