Details on claiming common police officer expenses.
The police department normally supplies and replaces gauntlets, holsters, handgrips, handcuffs, holders, pouches, utility belts and other equipment.
If you work in the Mounted Police Unit, other equipment might include equestrian equipment such as protective gear. For example, back protectors, knee and shin pads, boot pullers and boot trees.
You can claim a deduction for the decline in value of additional or more sophisticated equipment you use for work-related activities.
If the item of equipment costs:
- more than $300 – you claim a deduction for the cost over its effective life (decline in value)
- $300 or less (and you use it mainly for work purposes and it doesn’t form part of a set that costs more than $300) – you can claim an immediate deduction for its cost in the year you buy it.
If you use the item for work and private purposes, you must apportion your deduction. You can only claim a deduction for your work-related use.
You can't claim a deduction for prescription glasses or contact lenses, even if you need to wear them while working as these are private expenses.
You can claim a deduction for the cost of protective glasses if you wear them to reduce the real and likely risk of illness or injury while working. Protective glasses include anti-glare or photochromatic glasses, sunglasses, safety glasses or goggles.
You only claim a deduction for the work-related use of the item.
Example: deduction for sunglasses
Daisy is a police officer in the Marine Area Command Branch. Most of her shifts are spent in a police boat out on the water. To protect her eyes from glare and sun damage she buys a pair of sunglasses for $249.
The sunglasses are specifically designed to block the glare off the water so she only uses the sunglasses when she is at work.
As the sunglasses protect Daisy from the risk of illness and injury while she is working. Daisy can claim the cost of them ($249) as a deduction.
If the glasses had cost more than $300, Daisy could claim a deduction for their decline in value.End of example
You can't claim a deduction for hairdressing, cosmetics, hair and skin care products, even though:
- you receive an allowance for grooming
- your employer expects you to be well groomed when at work.
All grooming expenses and products are private expenses.
Example: no deduction for the cost of haircuts
Billy is a police officer. Under the terms of his employment, he must keep his hair short when he is on duty.
Billy can't claim a deduction for the cost of his haircuts as the expense is private.End of example
You can't claim a deduction for expenses you incur to protect you and your family, including the cost of:
- buying and maintaining guard dogs
- installing or maintaining a security system at your home.
The initial purchase is capital and the cost of protecting you and your family is also a private expense.
Police informant expenses are out-of-pocket expenses you pay to another person for information they provide about specific police matters you're involved in. You can't claim a deduction if you were reimbursed for your out-of-pocket expenses.
You may make a payment to an informant in the form of:
- goods, such as cigarettes or a snack, such as a cup of tea or coffee.
If the payment is in the form of food, a deduction will only be allowable if it's a light meal, such as a sandwich. The cost of more elaborate meals and alcohol (with or without a meal) won't be deductible as we consider these to be entertainment expenses.
Payments you make to informants are tax deductible if:
- the payments are authorised or permitted under the policies and procedures issued by your employing police service
- you can prove you paid the expense
- you weren't entitled to claim a reimbursement for this expense.
To prove you paid police informant expenses, you'll need written evidence which shows the:
- amount of the expense
- nature of the goods or services
- date the expense was incurred
- date the record was made.
This could be in the form of a receipt for goods or, if you are unable to get a receipt, you will need to keep a written record of the expense which includes the information above, for example an entry in your work diary.
It is important to identify any goods you purchase as a payment to an informant, for example by making a handwritten note on the receipt.
Example: deduction for informant fees
Gary is a police detective. Gary has informants that he pays to receive information about certain crimes. Gary's employer gives him the authorisation to make such payments but he doesn't receive reimbursement for them.
Gary made cash payments totalling $600 and spent $220 on light meals for informants during the income year.
When he buys a light meal, Gary tries to get a receipt. When he gets a receipt, he writes 'informant' and the name of the case it relates to on the receipt. If he can't get a receipt, he tries to use his credit or debit card to pay so that he can use the statements (with his handwritten notes) as evidence.
To prove he made the payments, Gary keeps receipts, credit card and bank statements for the light meals he buys. He also makes a note in his work diary setting out the following for his cash payments:
- whether he made a payment or provides goods to an informant
- the date he made the payment or provides the goods to the informant
- the amount of the payment or the cost of the goods he provides
- the date he made the record.
Gary can claim a deduction of $820 for informant expenses in his tax return.End of example
You can claim a deduction for the costs you incur to wash, dry and iron clothing you wear at work if it's:
- protective (for example, a bulletproof jacket)
- occupation specific and not a conventional, everyday piece of clothing such as jeans or general business attire
- a uniform either non-compulsory and registered with AusIndustry or compulsory (for example, your police uniform).
This also includes laundromat and dry-cleaning expenses.
We consider that a reasonable basis for working out your laundry claim is:
- $1 per load if it only contains clothing you wear at work from one of the categories above
- 50c per load if you mix personal items of clothing with work clothing from one of the categories above.
You can claim the actual costs you incurred for repairing and dry-cleaning expenses.
If your laundry claim (excluding dry-cleaning expenses) is $150 or less, you don't need to keep records, but you will still need to calculate and be able to show how you worked out your claim. This isn't an automatic deduction.
Example: laundry expenses uniform
James is a general duties police officer. His employer provides him with a compulsory uniform to wear in the course of performing his duties. James can claim a deduction for laundering his uniform.
James launders his uniforms once a week in a single load. He worked for 48 weeks of the income year.
James calculates his claim as follows:
1 × wash per week × $1 per load × 48 weeks of the year = $48.
As his total claim for laundry expenses is under $150 ($48), James isn't required to keep written evidence of his laundry expenses. However, if asked, he will still be required to explain how he calculated his claim.End of example
Example: conventional clothing
Jennifer is a plain clothes police officer and isn't required to wear a uniform when performing her duties. Jennifer wears everyday conventional clothing to work that she buys herself.
She can't claim a deduction for the cost of her plain clothes. They are conventional clothes and the cost of buying them is private.
Jennifer also can't claim a deduction for the cost of washing, drying, ironing and repairing her conventional clothes.End of example
Example: conventional clothing purchased where a uniform item is available
Geoff is a traffic branch officer. His employer provides him with uniforms that he must wear in the course of performing his duties.
Geoff decides to buy and wear to work, a general work wear brand of cargo pants that he finds more comfortable and look the same as his uniform pants.
Geoff can't claim a deduction for the cost of buying, repairing or laundering these pants as they conventional clothing and it is his decision to not wear the uniform his employer provides.End of example
You can’t claim the cost of getting your initial licence, regulatory permit, cards or certificates to get a job. For example, firearm licence.
You can claim a deduction for the additional costs you incur to get or renew your licence, regulatory permit, card or certificate to continue to perform your work duties.
You can't claim for the cost of food, drink or snacks you consume during your normal working hours, even if you receive a meal allowance. These are private expenses.
You can claim:
- overtime meal expenses, but only if you buy and eat the meal while you are performing overtime and you receive an overtime meal allowance under an industrial award
- cost of meals you incur when you are travelling overnight for the purpose of carrying out your employment duties (travel expenses).
Example: no deduction for meal
Marina is a police officer who works late night and early morning shifts. If she gets a call out to an incident during her shift, Marina generally buys a meal.
Marina can't claim a deduction for the cost of meals she buys while she is on her normal shift. The expenses are private.End of example
You can't claim a deduction for the cost of music streaming services, CDs, audio books, podcasts or devices that you use at work. Even if they're used to keep you motivated or occupied at work, these items aren't essential to earning your income. They are private expenses.
The cost of newspapers, other news services and magazines are generally private expenses and not deductible.
You can claim a deduction for the cost of buying or subscribing to a professional publication, newspaper, news service or magazine if you can show:
- a direct connection between your specific work duties and the content
- the content is specific to your employment and is not general in nature.
If you use the publication for work and private purposes, you can only claim the portion related to your work-related use.
You can claim a deduction for the cost of a meal you buy and eat when you work overtime, if all of the following apply:
- you receive an overtime meal allowance under an industrial law, award or agreement
- the allowance is on your income statement as a separate allowance
- you include the allowance in your tax return as income.
You can't claim a deduction if the allowance is part of your salary and wages and not included as a separate allowance on your income statement.
You generally need to get and keep written evidence, such as receipts, when you claim a deduction. However, each year we set an amount you can claim for overtime meal expenses without receipts. We call this the 'reasonable amount'. If you receive an overtime meal allowance, are claiming a deduction and spent:
- up to reasonable amount, you don’t have to get and keep receipts
- more than the reasonable amount, you must get and keep receipts for your expenses.
In all cases, you need to be able to show:
- you spent the money
- how you worked out your claim.
Example: deduction for overtime meal
Carl is a police officer. 30 times during the income year Carl works overtime after completing his normal 8 hour shift. He receives an overtime meal break and overtime meal allowance of $20 under the award each time this occurs.
Carl generally buys and eats a meal costing $15 during overtime. Carl's income statement shows the overtime meal allowances as a separate allowance totalling $600. That is, 30 overtime shifts × $20.
In his tax return, Carl includes the allowance as income and claims a deduction. He works out his deduction as:
$15 × 30 overtime shifts = $450.
That is the actual amount he spent on overtime meals which he multiplies by the number of overtime shifts.
As the amount Carl spent on his meals is less than the reasonable amount, Carl doesn't have to keep receipts. However, if asked, Carl will have to show that he spent the $450 on overtime meals and how he worked out his claim.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?
For more police officer expenses, see: