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Train driver expenses P–S

Last updated 20 June 2023

Details on claiming train driver expenses.

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 work. These are private expenses.

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


Troy has to drive out to meet another driver 20km away from the depot due to the driver having to take their mandatory long rest break. Troy takes over driving the train and the other driver drives his car back to the depot. Troy pays a road toll on his way to meet the other driver.

Troy can claim a deduction for the toll he pays. The toll is incurred while he uses his car for a work-related purpose.

End of example

Phone, data and internet expenses

You can claim a deduction for phone, data and internet costs if you use your own phone or electronic devices for work purposes.

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 your usage
  • reimburses you for the costs you incur.

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

For more information, see:

Example: calculating phone expenses

Violet is a train driver and she uses her personal mobile phone for work purposes (mainly outgoing phone calls). She is on a set plan of $49 a month and rarely exceeds the plan cap.

She receives an itemised bill from her phone provider each month by email, which includes details of the individual phone calls she has made.

At least once a year, Violet prints out her monthly bill and highlights her work-related phone calls. She also makes notes on the itemised bill about who she has phoned for work – for example, her manager and depot.

Out of the 300 phone calls she has made in a 4 week period, Violet works out that 60 (20%) of the individual call expenses billed to her are for work and applies that percentage to her cap amount of $49 a month.

Violet works out her work-related mobile phone expense deduction as follows:

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

60 ÷ 300 = 0.20 (that is 20%)

Violet can claim 20% of the total bill of $49 for each month for work purposes:

$49 × 0.20 = $9.80

As Violet worked for 46 weeks of the year (10.6 months), she calculates her work-related mobile phone expense deduction as follows:

10.6 months × $9.80 = $103.88

End of example


Example: work and private use

Sylvia uses her computer and personal internet account at home to access her work emails, rosters and review online training courses when required. She uses her computer and the internet for private purposes.

Sylvia keeps a diary for a 4 week period, recording the times she used the internet for work and private purposes. Sylvia's diary shows 10% of her internet time was for work-related activities and 90% was for private use. As her internet service provider charge for the year was $1,200, she can claim:

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

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

End of example

Repairs to tools and equipment

You can claim a deduction for repairs to tools and equipment you use for work. If you also use them for private purposes, you can only claim an amount for your work-related use.

Seat covers

You can’t claim a deduction for the cost of seat covers you use in your train for work. This is a private expense.

Self-education expenses

You can claim a deduction for self-education expenses if they directly relate to your employment as a train driver 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:

  • 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 (VETSL)
  • Trade Support Loan Program (TSL)
  • Student Financial Supplement Scheme (SFSS)
  • Student Start-up Loan (SSL)

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

Example: Education not related to current employment

John is a train driver but would like to start up his own transport business. He is completing a part-time course in Business Administration.

As the course doesn't have a connection to his current employment as a train driver, he can't claim a deduction.

End of example


Example: Education related to current employment

Frances is a train driver based in Lismore, NSW. She travels to Sydney to attend a 2-day course on shunting, coupling and uncoupling. The course will improve her skills in her current position.

Frances can claim a deduction for the course in addition to the cost of travel to and from the course, meals, incidentals and overnight accommodation in Sydney.

If Frances' employer pays for or reimburses her for these expenses, she can't claim a deduction.

End of example

Sunglasses, sunhats and sunscreens

You can claim a deduction for work-related use of sunglasses, sunhats and sunscreen lotions if you:

  • must work outdoors in the sun for prolonged periods
  • use these items to protect you from the real and likely risk of illness or injury while at work.

This includes prescription sunglasses and anti-glare glasses.

You can only claim a deduction for the work-related use of the products if you also wear them for private purposes.

Example: claiming sunglasses

Harold drives long haul trains. He wears sunglasses to protect himself against the glare of the sun while driving the train. He also needs to wear prescription glasses while driving, for his short-sightedness.

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

Harold can claim a deduction for the prescription sunglasses as they protect his eyes from the glare of the sun while driving the train. He can't claim a deduction for the untinted prescription glasses. These are a private expense as they do not provide protection from illness or injury while he is working or from his working environment.

If Harold also uses his prescription sunglasses for private purposes, he will need to work out his deduction based on the amount of work-related use.

End of example

For more train driver expenses: