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Office worker expenses P–S

Last updated 15 June 2023

Details on claiming common office worker expenses.

Parking fees and tolls

You can't claim a deduction for parking at or near a regular place of work. You also can't claim a deduction for tolls you incur for trips between your home and work. This is a private expense.

You can claim a deduction for parking fees and tolls you incur on work-related trips.

Example: parking fees

Alan drives his own car to work each day and parks in the secure parking centre next to the city office building where he works.

Once a month Alan drives his car to a training facility to complete mandatory training, required for his role as a site health and safety officer. He pays for parking and isn't reimbursed by his employer.

Alan can't claim the cost he incurs parking at his regular place of work. However, he can claim his parking at the training facility as this is incurred on a work-related trip.

End of example

Phone, data and internet expenses

You can claim a deduction for phone, data and internet costs for the work-related use of your own phone or electronic devices.

If your phone, data and internet use for work is incidental and you're not claiming more than $50 in total, you do not need to keep records.

If you claim more than $50, you need to keep records to show your work use. For example, an itemised bill where you can identify your work-related phone calls and data use.

You can’t claim a deduction if your employer:

  • provides you with a phone for work and pays for your usage
  • reimburses you for the costs you incur.

You can't claim a deduction for any phone calls to family and friends, even while travelling for work. This is because these are personal phone calls.

If all or part of your work-related phone, data and internet expenses are incurred as a result of working from home and you use the revised fixed rate method to claim your working from home deductions, you can't claim a separate deduction for these expenses.

For more information, see:

Example: calculating phone expenses

Sebastian uses his mobile phone for work purposes. He is on a set plan of $49 a month and rarely exceeds the plan cap.

He receives an itemised account from his phone provider each month that includes details of his individual phone calls.

At least once a year, Sebastian prints out his account and highlights the work-related phone calls he made. He makes notes on his account for the first month about who he is phoning for work – for example, his manager and clients.

Out of the 300 phone calls he has made in a 4 week period, Sebastian works out that 30 (10%) of the individual phone call expenses billed to him are for work and applies that percentage to his cap amount of $49 a month.

He works out his phone calls for work purposes as follows:

Total work phone calls ÷ total number of phone calls = work use percentage for phone calls

30 ÷ 300 = 0.10 (that is 10%)

Sebastian can claim 10% of the total bill of $49 for each month for work purposes, that is:

$49 × 0.10 = $4.90

Since Sebastian was only at work for 46 weeks of the year (10.6 months), he calculates his work-related mobile phone expense deduction as follows:

10.6 months × $4.90 = $51.94

End of example

 

Example: work and private use

Sylvette uses her computer and personal internet account at home to access her work emails. Sylvette also uses her computer and the internet for private purposes.

Sylvette's internet use diary showed 40% of her internet time was for work-related activities and 60% was for private use. As her internet service provider charge for the year was $1,200 she can claim:

$1,200 × 0.40 = $480 as work-related internet use.

If there was anyone else that accesses the internet connection, Sylvette must reduce her claim to account for their use.

End of example

Removal and relocation expenses

You can’t claim a deduction for the cost to transfer or relocate to a new work location. This is the case whether the move is a condition of your existing job or you are taking up a new job.

Example: relocating due to transfer

Remy is a policy analyst for a government department. He is currently located in Brisbane. However, his employer relocates him to the Rockhampton office.

Remy can't claim a deduction for his relocation costs, rent or other living expenses.

End of example

Repairs to tools and equipment

You can claim a deduction for repairs to tools and equipment you use for work. If you also use them for private purposes, you can only claim an amount for your work-related portion.

Self-education expenses

You can claim a deduction for self-education expenses if they directly relate to your employment as an office worker and at the time you incur the expense it:

  • maintains or improves the skills and knowledge you need for your current duties – for example, a manager completing a human resources training for managing staff
  • results in or is likely to result in an increase in your income from your current employment.

You can't claim a deduction for a self-education expense if at the time you incur the expense, it:

  • doesn't have a connection with your current employment
  • only relates in a general way to your current employment
  • enables you to get employment or change employment.

If your self-education expenses are deductible, you can claim expenses such as course or tuition fees, student and amenities fees, textbooks, academic journals and stationery expenses. You will also be able to claim a deduction for the decline in value of any depreciating assets which cost more than $300 that you use for your work-related study.

If you study at home, you may also be able to claim work from home running expenses, but not occupancy expenses.

You can't claim a deduction for the repayments you make on your study or training support loan. Study and training support loans include:

  • Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) (FEE-HELP and HECS-HELP)
  • VET Student Loans (VETSL)
  • Trade Support Loan Program (TSL)
  • Student Financial Supplement Scheme (SFSS)
  • Student Start-up Loan (SSL)

While course or tuition fees may be deductible, fees you incur under the Higher Education Contribution Scheme Higher Education Loan Program (HECS-HELP) scheme are not deductible.

Example: self-education not deductible

Adam is an administration officer in an advertising firm. He enrols in a Bachelor of Business (Marketing) to increase his knowledge and opportunity for promotion.

Adam can't claim a deduction for the course or self-education expenses as the course does not directly relate to his current employment as an administration officer.

End of example

 

Example: self-education to improve or maintain current skills or knowledge

Whitney is employed as an assistant office manager in an architecture firm. She enrols in a Diploma of Business Administration.

Whitney can claim a deduction for the course and self-education expenses as the course enables her to maintain or improve the skills and knowledge specific to her current job.

End of example

Seminars, conferences and training courses

You can claim a deduction for the cost of seminars, conferences and training courses that relate to your work as an office worker.

The costs you can claim includes fares to attend the venue where the seminar, conference or training course is held and registration costs. If you need to travel and stay away from home overnight to attend such an event, you can also claim the cost of accommodation and meals.

You may not be able to claim all of your expenses if attending a seminar, conference or training course is for both work-related and private purposes. If the private purpose is incidental, such as a catered lunch or a reception for delegates, you can still claim all your expenses. However, if the main purpose is not work-related, such as attending a conference while on a holiday, you can only claim the direct costs. Direct costs include the registration costs.

Where you have a dual purpose for attending the seminar, conference or training course, for example you add a holiday of one week to a training course that runs for one week, then you can only claim the work-related portion.

Example: training not related to current role

Jenny is an office worker. She has been struggling to keep up with her work commitments and become stressed. Jenny decides to take a time and stress management course.

She can't claim a deduction as the course does not directly relate to maintaining or increasing the knowledge, capabilities or skills needed for her current role.

End of example

 

Example: no cost incurred for training

Isaac is an accountant’s assistant. His employer requires him to attend an interstate conference with other members of the practice to learn how to better serve their clients in an increasingly digital world. Isaac’s employer pays for his flights, accommodation and registration expenses.

Isaac can't claim a deduction for any of these costs as he did not incur the expense.

End of example

For more office workers expenses, see:

QC18955