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Media professional expenses T–W

Last updated 11 June 2023

Details on claiming media professional expenses.

Taxi, ride-share, public transport and car hire

You can claim a deduction for transport costs if you travel in the course of performing your work. For example, taking a taxi from your regular workplace to another work location.

You can’t claim a deduction for travel expenses between home and work, these are private expenses.

You can't claim a deduction if your employer reimburses you for these expenses.

Tools and equipment

You can claim a deduction for tools and equipment you use to perform your duties as a media professional – such as video camera, laptop and editing software.

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

If the tool or equipment cost you $300 or less, you can claim 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: laptop used for work purposes

Bjorn is journalist for a travel magazine. Bjorn buys a laptop that he only uses for work purposes. He keeps his old laptop and uses that for private purposes.

Bjorn can claim the decline in value of the laptop he buys and uses for work purposes.

End of example

Travel expenses

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.

You also can't claim a deduction if you aren't required to sleep away from your home overnight in the course of performing your employment duties, for example if you fly interstate and return home the same day, or you choose to sleep near your workplace rather than returning home.

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:

  • accommodation
  • meals
  • incidentals.

You don’t have to keep written evidence such as receipts if both of the following apply:

  • you receive 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. For example, show your work diary, that you received and correctly declared your travel allowance and bank statements.

Example: travel to attend a meeting

Beth is a foreign news correspondent for a television network. She travels from her usual workplace in Sydney to London for a three-day meeting with the executive producers and network president. Beth's employer pays for the cost of her flights. Beth incurs the costs for her accommodation, meals and incidental expenses such as taxi fares from her hotel to the meeting venue each day. She receives a travel allowance from her employer that is shown on her income statement.

Beth must include the amount of the travel allowance as income in her tax return.

Beth can claim a deduction for the expenses she incurred in attending the meeting.

As Beth spent more than the Commissioner's reasonable amounts she must keep all of her receipts and documents for accommodation, meals and incidental expenses she incurred in the course of performing her employment duties.

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?

Union and professional association fees

You can claim a deduction for union and professional association fees you pay. You can use your income statement as evidence of the amount you pay if it's shown on there.

Watches and smart watches

You can't claim a deduction for the cost you incur to buy or maintain watches or smart watches, even if you require one as part of your job. This is a private expense.

Similar to ordinary watches, a smart watch (for example, one that connects to a phone or other device to provide notifications, apps and GPS) is a private expense and not deductible under ordinary circumstances.

However, if you require some of the smart watch's functions as an essential part of your employment activities you may be able to apportion the expense between your private and work use. In order to show your work-related use of the watch, you will need to keep a diary or similar record of your use of the watch for a representative period.

If the watch cost more than $300, you can claim a deduction for its decline in value over the effective life.

You can claim a deduction for the cost of repairs, batteries and watchbands for special watches. You only claim a deduction for the amount you use the item at work if you also wear it for private purposes.

Working from home expenses

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, as an employee, you can’t claim occupancy expenses (rent, rates, mortgage interest and house insurance premiums), unless your home is your 'place of business'.

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.

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

For more media professionals expenses, see:

QC51250