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Retail industry expenses A–F

Last updated 18 June 2023

Details on retail industry employee 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.

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 have 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 place of work 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:

  • between separate jobs on the same day – for example, travelling from your first job as a retail assistant directly to your second job as a waiter
  • to and from an alternative workplace for the same employer on the same day – for example, driving between separate retail stores for the same employer
  • from home directly to an alternative workplace – for example, travelling from home to conference centre to attend a work-related seminar.

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 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 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 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: travelling between different jobs on the same day

Olivia works part-time as a retail assistant at her local supermarket and as a waitress at a restaurant. On Mondays she completes her retail shift before driving directly to the restaurant to commence her waitressing shift.

Olivia can claim a deduction for the travel between one workplace (supermarket) to the other (restaurant). However, she can't claim a deduction for the travel between her home and the workplaces.

Olivia uses the myDeductions tool in the ATO app to record her trips in the digital logbook. This gives her an accurate record of the kilometres she travels in the financial year. She uploads these records to her tax return when she is ready to lodge.

End of example

 

Example: private travel to work

Kyon is a store manager. He drives to and from work each day. The cost of his travel is not deductible as it is a private expense. The expense is incurred to put Kyon in the position to earn his employment income.

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, a plain white shirt and black pants worn by retail employees.

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 or functions you wear to protect you from specific risks of injury or illness at work. For example, steel-capped boots, clothing for working in extreme temperatures, or aprons that protect conventional clothing. 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 is 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 – 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, repairs or replaces your clothing.

Example: conventional clothing

Matt works as a sales assistant in a clothing store. His employer requires him to wear clothes available in the store. Matt earns his income mostly from the activity of selling clothes.

Although he must wear clothing in accordance with his employer's requirements, this isn't sufficient to make the clothing deductible. Matt can't claim a deduction as the clothes are of a conventional nature and not part of a compulsory uniform.

End of example

 

Example: conventional clothes worn with a uniform

Rick works at a supermarket. He is required to buy and wear a shirt with the supermarket's logo embroidered on it. The employee guidelines include a requirement to wear black pants and closed black shoes, but don't specify any other qualities of those items.

Rick can claim a deduction for the cost of the shirts as they are a compulsory uniform, but he can't claim the cost of his pants or shoes. Even though his employer requires him to wear a specific colour, they aren't distinctive enough to make them part of his uniform. These are still conventional clothes.

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 as a spectator
  • 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 you can't claim

Rachael has just started working as a retail sales assistant with a makeup company. Her company has organised a social breakfast for all new employees to socialise and network with colleagues. Rachael pays for her transport costs to the breakfast, as well as food and drinks at the breakfast and is not reimbursed by her employer.

Rachael can’t claim a deduction for the cost of attending the breakfast.

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. For example, a fine you receive for speeding on your way to work.

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 retail industry worker expenses, see:

QC51271