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Tradesperson expenses G–O

Details on claiming tradesperson expenses.

Last updated 2 June 2024

Glasses, contact lenses and anti-glare glasses

You can't claim a deduction for prescription glasses or contact lenses, even if you need to wear them while working 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 can only claim a deduction for the work-related use of the item.

Example: claiming sunglasses

Esme works for a small electrical company in far north Queensland. She regularly works at more than one location each day and drives her employer's ute when travelling from job to job.

She wears sunglasses for protection against the glare of the sun while driving the ute. She also needs to wear glasses while driving, for her short-sightedness.

She buys a pair of prescription sunglasses which counter the glare during day driving. She also buys a pair of untinted prescription glasses for night driving.

Esme can claim a deduction for the prescription sunglasses because they are protective, but not for the untinted prescription glasses. If Esme wears her prescription sunglasses when she isn't driving for work, she will only be able to claim a deduction for her work-related use of them.

End of example

Insurance of tools and equipment

You can claim a deduction for the cost to insure your tools and equipment to the extent that you use them for work-related purposes.

Laundry and maintenance

You can claim a deduction for the cost 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 by your employer on the Register of Approved Occupational Clothing 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. However 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

Dante is employed as a commercial painter. His employer provides him with a compulsory uniform that has the company name and logo embroidered on it.

He washes and dries his uniforms in a separate load of washing 3 times a week. Dante works 40 weeks during the year. His claim of $120 for laundry expenses is worked out as follows:

Number of claimable laundry loads per week x number of weeks = total number of claimable laundry loads

3 × 40 = 120

Total number of claimable laundry loads x reasonable cost per load = total claim amount

120 × $1 = $120

As his total claim for laundry expenses is under $150, Dante doesn't have to keep written evidence of his laundry expenses. Although Dante doesn't require evidence to prove his claim for laundry, if asked, he will still be required to explain how he calculated his claim.

End of example

Licences, permits and cards

You can't claim the cost to your initial licence, regulatory permit, cards or certificates in order to get a job. For example, a builder's licence.

You can claim a deduction for the additional costs you incur to renew your licence, regulatory permit, card or certificate to continue to perform your work duties. For example, if you need to have a builder's licence to get your job, you can’t claim the initial cost of getting it. However, you can claim the cost to renew it during the period you are working.

Meal and snack expenses

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
  • the cost of meals you incur when you are travelling overnight for the purpose of carrying out your employment duties (travel expenses).

Music streaming services, CDs, audio books or podcasts

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.

Newspapers and other news services, magazines and professional publications

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 income earning activities 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.

Overtime meal expenses

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 or payment summary 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 or payment summary.

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 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 and how you worked out your claim.

Example: overtime meal expenses

Ash is a painter and was employed to paint a shopping centre. He was required to work overtime on 15 occasions. Ash was paid an overtime meal allowance of $30.60 for each occasion he worked overtime.

Ash spent $12.00 on a takeaway meal each occasion he worked overtime which is less than the reasonable amount for the relevant year. At the end of the income year his income statement showed he received $459 in allowances which represented the 15 occasions he worked overtime × $30.60 the amount he received per occasion.

In his tax return, Ash correctly declared the $459 allowance as income and claimed a deduction of $12.00 × 15 = $180. This is the amount he actually spent on his overtime meals.

The amount Ash is claiming as a deduction is less than the Commissioner's reasonable amount so Ash doesn't have to keep written evidence. However, he will need to be able to show how he calculated his deduction and that he spent the money.

End of example

For more information, see TD 2023/3 Income tax: what are the reasonable travel and overtime meal allowance expense amounts for the 2023–24 income year?

For more tradesperson expenses, see: