Details on retail industry employee expenses.
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 within the retail industry. 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.
You can't claim a deduction for hairdressing, cosmetics, hair and skin care products, even though:
- you may receive an allowance for grooming
- your employer expects to be well groomed when at work.
All grooming expenses and products are private expenses.
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 hi-vis 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.
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
Jelani receives a uniform from her employer. She washes, dries and irons her uniforms as their own load of washing twice a week. Jelani works 48 weeks during the year. Her claim of $96 for laundry expenses is worked out as follows:
Number of claimable laundry loads per week × number of weeks = total number of claimable laundry loads
2 × 48 weeks = 96
Total number of claimable laundry loads × reasonable cost per load = total claim amount
96 × $1= $96
As her total claim for laundry expenses is under $150, Jelani isn't required to keep written evidence of her laundry expenses. However, if asked, she will still be required to explain how she calculated her claim.End of example
You can't claim a deduction 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).
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 are generally required 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 the reasonable amount, you don't have to get and keep receipts
- more than the reasonable amount, you must get and keep receipts for all your expenses.
In all cases, you need to be able to show:
- you spent the money
- how you work out your claim.
Example: deduction for overtime meal
Carl works at a sports shoe store. 20 times during the 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 which is less than the reasonable amount for the relevant income year. Carl's income statement shows the overtime meal allowances as a separate allowance totalling $400. That is, 20 overtime shifts × $20 = $400.
In his tax return, Carl includes the allowance as income and claims a deduction. He works out his deduction as:
$15 × 20 overtime shifts = $300.
That is the actual amount he spent on overtime meals multiplied 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 $300 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 retail industry worker expenses, see: