Details on retail industry employee expenses.
You can claim a deduction for transport costs if you travel in the course of performing your work. For example, taking a taxi from you regular workplace to another work location.
You can’t claim a deduction for travel expenses between home and work, these are private expenses.
You can't claim a deduction if your employer reimburses you for these expenses.
You can claim a deduction for travel expenses you incur when your work requires you to both:
- travel for work
- sleep away from your home overnight in the course of performing your employment duties.
Expenses you can claim include your accommodation, meals and expenses which are incidental to the travel (incidentals). For example, when you travel interstate to attend a work-related conference, seminar or training course.
You can't claim a deduction for travel expenses where you haven't incurred any expenses, because:
- you slept in accommodation your employer provides
- you eat meals your employer provides
- your employer or a third party reimburses you for any costs you incur.
You also can't claim a deduction if you are not required to sleep away from your home overnight in the course of performing your employment duties, for example if you fly interstate and return home the same day, or you choose to sleep near your workplace rather than returning home.
Receiving an allowance from your employer doesn't automatically mean you can claim a deduction. In all cases, you need to be able to show:
- you were away overnight
- you have spent the money
- the travel directly relates to earning your employment income
- how you work out your claim.
If you receive a travel allowance you must include it as assessable income in your tax return unless all of the following apply:
- the travel allowance is not on your income statement or payment summary
- the travel allowance doesn't exceed the Commissioner of Taxation's reasonable amount
- you spent the whole allowance on deductible accommodation, meal and incidental expenses, if applicable.
The Commissioner's reasonable amount is set each year. The amount is used to determine whether an exception from keeping written evidence applies for the following expenses which are covered by a travel allowance:
You don’t have to keep written evidence such as receipts if both of the following apply:
- you receive a travel allowance from your employer for the expenses
- your deduction is less than the Commissioner’s reasonable amount.
If you claim a deduction for more than the Commissioner’s reasonable amount you need to keep receipts for all expenses, not just for the amount over the Commissioner’s reasonable amount.
Even if you are not required to keep written evidence such as receipts, you must be able to explain your claim and show you spent the amounts. For example, show your work diary, that you received and correctly declared your travel allowance and bank statements.
Example: travel expense with allowance
Lorena is a manager at a regional women's wear franchise. One a month she travels to Perth to visit the head office for a meeting. Her employer pays for her flights and accommodation and provides a travel allowance which covers her meal expenses. If Lorena spends less than the reasonable amount on each of her meals she isn't required to keep receipts. She can claim a deduction for the amount she has actually incurred the meal expense provided she has reported the allowance in her tax return.
Lorena can't claim a deduction for the cost of her flights and accommodation as these are paid for by her employer.End of example
Example: travel expense without allowance
George works as a retail assistant. His manager requests that he flies to Sydney to meet with the regional manager. George pays for his flights, accommodation and meals himself. He does not receive a travel allowance from his employer.
George can claim a deduction for the expenses he incurs for his flights, accommodation and meals.
As George does not receive a travel allowance, he is required to get and keep written evidence of all his expenses for accommodation and meals. George will also need to keep written evidence of his expenses for the flights.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?
You can claim a deduction for union and professional association fees you pay. You can use your income statement as evidence of the amount you pay if it's shown on there.
You can't claim a deduction for the cost of vaccinations such as the flu shot even if you're employer requires you to have them for work. The expense relates to your personal health and is a private expense.
You may be able to claim a deduction for working from home expenses you incur as an employee. These can be additional running expenses such as electricity, phone and internet expenses, and the decline in value of equipment or furniture. You must:
- use one of the methods set out by us to calculate your deduction
- keep the records required for the method that you choose.
There are some expenses you can't claim a deduction for as an employee. Employees who work at home can't claim costs:
- for coffee, tea, milk and other general household items your employer may provide you at work
- for your children and their education including
- setting them up for online learning
- teaching them at home
- buying equipment such as iPads and desks
- your employer pays for or reimburses you for the expense
- for the decline in value of items provided by your employer – for example, a laptop or a phone.
Generally, as an employee, you can’t claim occupancy expenses (rent, rates, mortgage interest and house insurance premiums), unless your home is your 'place of business'.
You can’t claim a deduction if your employer pays for your home office to be set up or they reimburse you for the expenses.
The Home office expenses calculator helps you work out the amount you can claim as a deduction for home office expenses.
For more information, see:
- PS LA 2001/6 Verification approaches for home office and electronic device expenses
- TR 93/30 Income tax: deductions for home office expenses
- PCG 2023/1 Claiming a deduction for additional running expenses incurred while working from home - ATO compliance approach
For more retail industry worker expenses, see: