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Office worker expenses T–W

Last updated 15 June 2023

Details on claiming common office worker 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 an office worker.

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

If a tool or item of equipment cost you $300 or less, you can claim a deduction 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: apportioned deduction for decline in value

Byron is an office manager for a technology company. He regularly works from home and buys a laptop for $1,200 to use for work purposes.

Byron regularly uses the laptop to stream movies and television shows as well as buy personal goods online. Byron calculates his work-related use of the laptop as 60%.

Byron can claim a deduction for the decline in value over the effective life of the laptop using either the prime cost method or the diminishing value method. He can choose whichever method he prefers. However, once the choice is made it can't be changed in future years.

As Byron also uses the laptop for private purposes, Byron has to reduce his deduction to account for that use. If the laptop's decline in value is $600, Byron's deduction is reduced to $360, that is, 60% of the laptop's decline in value.

End of example

 

Example: equipment costing less than $300

Brinn works in the office at an employment agency. He purchases a pair of headphones costing $249 which he uses to answer and make work phone calls on his work mobile phone. Brinn only uses the headphones for this purpose.

As the headphones cost less than $300, he can claim a deduction for the full amount in the year he buys them, as:

  • he uses them mainly for work purposes
  • it's not part of a set that together cost more than $300.
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, you're required to travel to a remote office to carry out your work duties.

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 shown on your income statement or payment summary
  • the travel allowance doesn't exceed the Commissioner's reasonable amount (the reasonable amount is the amount we set each year for determining whether an exception from keeping written evidence applies for accommodation, meal and incidental expenses which are covered by a travel allowance)
  • 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 received 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 expenses with allowance

Latisha is an office worker in a regional office located in Rockhampton. Once a month she is required to travel to Brisbane for meetings at head office. Her employer pays for her flights and accommodation and provides a travel allowance for her breakfast, lunch and dinner.

If Latisha spends less than the reasonable amount on her meals she isn't required to keep receipts. She can claim a deduction for the amount she spends on breakfast, lunch and dinner so long as she reports the allowance in her tax return.

Latisha can't claim the cost of her flights and accommodation as she doesn't incur the cost for these expenses.

End of example

 

Example: work-related travel with private travel component

David’s employer requires that he travel to Perth for planning meetings. While he is there, his employer allows David to extend his stay to explore the city and tourist attractions.

David has kept the receipts for all of the expenses he incurred during the trip.

Upon his return, David’s employer reimburses him for the work-related travel, accommodation, meal and incidental expenses he incurred.

Although David has kept his receipts, he can't claim any further deductions as his employer has reimbursed him for the full cost of the work-related travel and his remaining expenses are private in nature.

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.

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 that 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.

You generally 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 - ATO compliance approach

For more office workers expenses, see:

Find out about office workers:

QC18955