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Retail industry expenses P–S

Details on retail industry employee expenses.

Last updated 2 June 2024

Parking fees and tolls

You can't claim a deduction for parking at or near a regular place of work. You also can't claim a deduction for tolls you incur for trips between your home and regular place of work. This is a private expense.

You can claim a deduction for parking fees and tolls you incur on work-related trips.

Example: parking fees not deductible

Katie works as a sales assistant at a makeup store. She usually parks in the shopping centre and pays $15 per day to park close to work.

Katie can't claim a deduction for parking at her regular place of work.

End of example

Phone, data and internet expenses

You can claim a deduction for phone, data and internet costs for the work-related use of your own phone or electronic devices.

If your phone, data and internet use for work is incidental and you're not claiming more than $50 in total, you do not need to keep records.

If you claim more than $50, you need to keep records to show your work use. For example, an itemised bill where you can identify your work-related phone calls and data use.

You can’t claim a deduction if your employer:

  • provides you with a phone for work and pays for the usage
  • reimburses you for the costs you incur.

You can’t claim a deduction for any phone calls to family and friends, even while travelling for work. This is because these are personal phone calls.

For more information, see:

Example: calculating phone expenses

George is the manager of a hardware store and uses his mobile phone to receive and make calls to his staff and his area manager about roster changes and leave. He's on a set plan of $49 each month and rarely exceeds the plan cap.

He receives an itemised account from his provider monthly, that includes details of his individual phone calls. At least once a year, George prints his account and highlights his work-related phone calls. He also notes on the account who he has phoned – for example his staff members or his area manager.

At the end of the income year, George works out he has made 300 phone calls and that 10% of his phone call costs are work-related.

George calculates his phone calls for work purposes as follows:

Total work phone calls ÷ total number of phone calls = work use percentage for phone calls

30 ÷ 300 = 0.10 (that is 10%)

George can claim 10% of the total bill of $49 for each month for work purposes:

$49 × 0.10 = $4.90

George worked for 46 weeks of the year (10.6 months), so he calculates his work-related mobile phone expense deduction as follows:

10.6 months × $4.90 = $51.94

End of example


Example: work and personal internet usage

Mary uses her computer and personal internet at home if she needs to rearrange her shifts or do some online training. Mary also uses her computer and the internet for private purposes.

Mary keeps a diary which shows 10% of her internet usage was for work-related activities and 90% was for private use. Her internet bill totalled $1,200 for the year. Mary can claim:

$1,200 × 0.10 = $120 as work-related internet use

If there was anyone else that accesses the internet connection, Mary must reduce her claim to account for their use.

End of example

Protective items and equipment

You can claim a deduction for the cost of protective items, equipment and products – for example, personal protective equipment such as gloves, face masks or sanitiser. You must use these items:

  • to protect you from the real and likely risk of injury or illness in your work environment or while performing your work duties – for example, working in close proximity to customers
  • in direct connection to earning your employment income.

You can also claim the costs you incur to repair, replace or clean protective items.

You can't claim a deduction if your employer:

  • supplies the protective items
  • pays for the protective items
  • reimburses you for the costs you incur to buy protective items.

Self-education expenses

You can claim a deduction for self-education expenses if they directly relate to your employment in the retail industry and at the time you incur the expense it:

  • maintains or improves the skills and knowledge you need for your current duties
  • results in or is likely to result in an increase in your income from your current employment.

You can't claim a deduction for the self-education expense if at the time you incur the expense it either:

  • doesn't have a connection with your current employment
  • only relates in a general way to your current employment
  • enables you to get employment or change employment.

If your self-education expenses are deductible, you can claim expenses such as course or tuition fees, student and amenities fees, textbooks, academic journals and stationery expenses. You will also be able to claim a deduction for the decline in value of any depreciating assets which cost more than $300 that you use for your work-related study.

If you study at home, you may also be able to claim work from home running expenses, but not occupancy expenses

You can't claim a deduction for the repayments you make on your study or training support loan. Study and training support loans include:

  • Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) (FEE-HELP and HECS-HELP)
  • VET Student Loans (VSL)
  • Australian Apprenticeship Support Loans (AASL) (formerly Trade Support Loans (TSL))
  • Student Financial Supplement Scheme (SFSS)
  • Student Start-up Loan (SSL).

While course fees may be deductible, fees you incur under the Higher Education Contribution Scheme Higher Education Loan Program (HECS-HELP) scheme are not deductible.

Example: education not related to current employment

Jane is a shop assistant who would like to go into business for herself. She is doing a part-time course in Business Administration.

As the course isn't related to her current employment, she can't claim a deduction.

End of example


Example: course related to current employment

Billy is working as a sales assistant in a clothing outlet. Billy enrols in a Certificate III in Retail which focuses on interpersonal skills related to engaging with customers, selling products and handling customer complaints and selling.

As the course will improve the skills and knowledge he requires to undertake his duties as a sales assistant, Billy can claim a deduction for the costs he incurs to complete the course.

End of example

Seminars, conferences and training courses

You can claim for the cost of seminars, conferences and training courses that relate to your work in the retail industry.

The costs you can claim includes fares to attend the venue where the seminar, conference or training course is held and registration costs. If you need to travel and stay away from home overnight to attend such an event, you can also claim the cost of accommodation and meals.

You may not be able to claim all of your expenses if attending a seminar, conference or training course is for both work-related and private purposes. If the private purpose is incidental, such as a catered lunch or a reception for delegates, you can still claim all your expenses. However, if the main purpose is not work-related, such as attending a conference while on a holiday, you can only claim the direct costs. Direct costs include the registration costs.

Where you have a dual purpose for attending the seminar, conference or training course you can only claim the work-related portion. For example, you add a holiday of one week to a training course that runs for one week.

Example: deduction for attending a conference

Reeta is a retail assistant at a popular clothing franchise. She attends a conference for her company to learn about the new stock they are receiving.

Reeta can claim a deduction for the cost of attending the conference as this is directly related to her work.

End of example


Example: work-related seminar and personal activities

Willow is a manager at a stationery shop. Each year she attends an interstate conference on effective management to discuss and share ideas with colleagues within her industry.

The conference goes for 5 days (Monday to Friday) and Willow's employer pays for her flights and the cost of attending the conference. They also pay her a travel allowance to cover the cost of her accommodation for Sunday night to Thursday night and meals while she is attending the conference.

The travel allowance is on Willow's income statement at the end of the income year. Willow must include the travel allowance as income in her tax return.

This year Willow gets permission from her employer to visit her family interstate for 1 day after the conference as the flights cost the same regardless of whether Willow returns on Friday night or Saturday night.

Willow can claim a deduction for the accommodation and meal expenses she incurs while attending the conference. However, Willow can't claim a deduction for her accommodation after the conference has finished or for the meals she incurs while visiting her family. These are private expenses.

Willow also can't claim a deduction for the cost of her flights or the conference because these are paid for by her employer.

End of example

For more retail industry worker expenses, see: