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Office worker expenses A–F

Details on claiming common office worker expenses.

Last updated 2 June 2024

Car expenses

You can't claim a car expenses 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.

To be able to claim a deduction for the cost of trips between home and work while carrying bulky tools or equipment, all the following conditions must be met:

  • the tools or equipment are essential to perform your employment duties
  • the tools or equipment are bulky, meaning that
    • because of the size and weight, they are awkward to transport
    • they can only be transported conveniently using a motor vehicle
  • there is no secure storage for such items at the workplace.

It will not be sufficient if you transport the tools or equipment merely as a matter of choice. For example, if your employer provides secure storage, your decision to transport items home will be a matter of choice.

You are considered to have shifting places of employment where you have no fixed place of work and you continually travel from one work site to another before returning home.

You can also 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 office job to your second job as a musician
  • to and from an alternative workplace for the same employer on the same day – for example, travelling from your usual office to a one of your employer's other offices to attend a meeting
  • from home directly to an alternative workplace – for example, travelling from home to meet a client at their business premises which is not your regular work location.

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 logbook method or cents per kilometre 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 can help you work out the amount you can claim as a deduction.

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 show your work-related use of your 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: travelling between 2 jobs and keeping receipts

During the day, Hanna works in an office performing clerical duties. After work, she travels directly from her office to her second job at a local supermarket.

Hanna can claim a deduction for the travel between her 2 workplaces. She can't claim a deduction for the travel between her home and the workplaces.

To help work out her car expenses, Hanna uses the myDeductions tool in the ATO app to record her trips using the digital logbook. This gives her an accurate record of the kilometres she travels in the income year. She uploads these records to her tax return when she is ready to lodge.

End of example


Example: travelling to and from an alternative workplace

Ruby is a data analyst. Her regular workplace is an office in the CBD, however she is sometimes required to attend a monthly meeting at one of the regional offices.

Ruby uses her own car to travel to the meetings. After the meetings she drives directly home.

Ruby can claim a deduction for the cost of travelling from her regular workplace in the city, to the meeting at the regional office and then to her home.

End of example


Example: travelling outside of regular work hours

Jonathon is a clerical officer. His normal work hours are 8:30 am until 5:00 pm. One day Jonathon decides to stay at work until 9:00 pm to finish a project.

Even though Jonathon is travelling home from work outside his regular hours, he can’t claim a deduction. This travel between Jonathon's home and his regular workplace is still considered a private expense.

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 office workers.

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 – clothing with protective features or 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 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 – 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 – that your employer registers on the Register of Approved Occupational Clothing and you wear the uniform at work.

You can't claim a deduction if your employer buys, repairs or replaces your clothing, footwear or protective clothing.

Example: compulsory uniform with logo

Mika is an office assistant and her employer requires she wear shirts her employer has designed with the company logo embroidered on them. Mika buys two shirts from her employer. As part of her uniform, she also has to wear plain black pants and black shoes.

Mika can claim a deduction for the cost of buying the shirts as they are:

  • distinctive items with the employer's logo
  • compulsory for her to wear at work.

However, she can't claim the cost of buying the black pants or shoes. These items are conventional clothing and the expense is private in nature.

End of example


Example: conventional clothing

Lena wears a business suit to work. It's not compulsory for a staff member to wear a business suit, but the employer encourages staff members to do so.

Lena can't claim a deduction for the cost of buying or cleaning these items because they are private in nature, even if her employer tells her to wear them.

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't claim a deduction for the cost of any entertainment, fundraising or social functions. 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
  • gala or social nights
  • concerts or dances
  • cocktail parties
  • other similar types of functions or events.

These are private expenses because these events do not have a direct connection to your income-producing activities.

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

Example: entertainment costs

Rachael attends a social breakfast organised by a professional association. These breakfasts are held every other month to encourage office professionals to meet socially with colleagues.

Rachael can't claim a deduction for the cost of attending the breakfast even though her employer encourages staff to attend.

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.

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 office workers expenses, see: