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Pilot expenses A–F

Last updated 18 June 2023

Details on claiming pilot expenses.

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 reasonably 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.

In most cases pilots can't claim bulky tools or equipment, as items carried in luggage are private in nature and the other essential items carried such as flight manuals (whether electronic or hard copy) aren't considered bulky on their own.

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, from your job as a pilot to your job as a cadet trainer
  • to and from an alternative workplace for the same employer on the same day – for example, from the airport to the airline training centre
  • from home directly to an alternative work location – for example, travelling from home directly to a training centre.

To claim a deduction, you must keep records of your car use. You can choose between logbook method or the 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 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 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: travel between work and home and carrying equipment

Jonah is a pilot for a commercial airline and is based at Melbourne airport. When he reports for his shift, he is required to have his licence including his current instrument rating and aircraft endorsement, a valid medical certificate, a serviceable torch, several writing instruments and his passport or applicable visa (if required).

The flight manuals Jonah requires during the flight are kept on the aircraft. The other items Jonah carries are essential to carrying out his employment duties.

Jonah can't claim a deduction for his travel between his home and the Melbourne airport. The items he carries and that are essential to carrying out his duties are not bulky. Jonah's travel is private.

End of example


Example: travel between workplaces and then home

Mary is a pilot for a company that undertakes charter flights. After her last flight for the month, Mary is required to go to her employer's office and record certain details of her flights for the month onto their system. Mary generally spends around 2 hours at the office recording this information.

On a normal day, Mary drives her car directly between her home and the airport where the plane is kept. For her last shift at the end of the month, Mary drives from home to the airport and then when she returns from her flight, she drives from the airport to her employer's office and then home.

Mary can't claim a deduction for the cost of her travel between her home and the airport. This is a private expense.

However, when Mary is required to travel to her employer's office after a flight, she can claim the cost of her travel from the airport to her employer's office and then on to her home.

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, general business attire worn by pilots or clothing bought deliberately to look like a passenger when paxing.

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 you wear to protect you from specific risks of injury or illness at work. For example, overalls, hi-vis vests or non-slip shoes. 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 or mends your clothing.

Example: compulsory uniform with a logo

Jackson is a pilot for a large commercial airline. His employer provides him with a uniform. Jackson is required to wear a uniform consisting of a while button up shirt, black jacket and black pants. All items of his clothing are embroidered with his employer's logo.

Jackson can't claim a deduction for the cost of his embroidered shirts, jacket or pants as these are provided by his employer. If Jackson had to pay for the uniform himself and was not reimbursed, he could claim a deduction for the cost of these items.

End of example

Compulsory assessments

You can claim a deduction for compulsory assessments and medical examinations your employer requires you to undertake in your current employment. For example, an annual hearing test.

You can’t claim a deduction for compulsory pre-employment assessments and medical examinations you undertake to obtain employment as pilot. For example, a hearing test you need to pass before commencing your employment.

Example: compulsory assessment you can’t claim -gaining employment as a pilot

Elisabeth has been offered a job as a pilot. As a condition of her employment, before commencing work, Elisabeth must get an eyesight and hearing test. She must then provide the report to her employer.

The eyesight test costs Elisabeth $185 to complete and the hearing test costs $195.

Elisabeth can't claim a deduction for this initial assessment, as it's a requirement for her pass these tests to gain employment as a pilot.

End of example


Example: compulsory assessment you can claim – currently employed as a pilot

Jackie is a pilot for a regional airline. Her employer requires her to pass an annual hearing test as part of her employment.

The hearing test costs Jackie $150 and she is not reimbursed by her employer.

Jackie can claim a deduction for the cost of her annual hearing test. This is because she is currently employed as a pilot.

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.

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.

For example, a fine imposed by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) for failing to record all the necessary information in the flight technical log for the aircraft you are flying or failing to comply with a CASA direction.

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 pilot expenses, see: