ato logo
Search Suggestion:

Claiming deductions 2013

You may be able to claim deductions for work-related expenses you incurred while performing your job as an employee.

Last updated 27 May 2013

You may be able to claim deductions for work-related expenses you incurred while performing your job as an employee. You incur an expense in an income year when:

  • you receive a bill or invoice for an expense that you are liable for and must pay (even if you don't pay it until after the end of the income year), or
  • you do not receive a bill or invoice but you are charged and you pay for the expense.

These expenses include:

  • car expenses, including fuel costs and maintenance
  • travel costs
  • clothing expenses
  • education expenses
  • union fees
  • home computer and phone expenses
  • tools and equipment expenses
  • journals and trade magazines.

You may also be able to claim some deductions which are not work related. They are:

  • interest and dividend deductions for investments
  • deductions for gifts and donations
  • a deduction for the cost of managing your tax affairs.

For more information and examples explaining the meaning of 'incurred', see Taxation Ruling TR 97/7 Income tax: section 8-1 - meaning of 'incurred' - timing of deductions.

Goods and services tax

If your expense includes an amount of goods and services tax (GST), the GST is part of the total expense and is therefore part of any deduction. For example, if you incurred union fees of $440 which included $40 GST, you claim a deduction for $440.

Foreign employment payment summary

If you received a PAYG payment summary - foreign employment then any deductions that you are entitled to claim in respect of the income shown on that payment summary must be claimed at items D1 to D6, where relevant.

All foreign deductions must be translated (converted) to Australian dollars before you complete this item. More information on how to translate your foreign deductions is available at Foreign exchange (forex) or you can phone 13 28 61 to get information about the exchange rates.

Basic rules

You must have incurred the expense in 2012-13.

The expense must not be private, domestic or capital in nature. For example, the costs of normal travel to and from work, and buying lunch each day are private expenses. If you incurred an expense that was both work-related and private or domestic in nature, you can claim a deduction only for the work-related portion of the expense.

If you incurred an expense that was capital in nature you may be able to claim a deduction for the decline in value of the depreciating assets you acquired. See Decline in value of a depreciating asset.

If you incurred an expense for services paid in advance, read Advance expenditure to decide what part of the expense is deductible in 2012-13.

You cannot claim a deduction for an expense to the extent that:

  • someone else paid the expense, or you were, or will be, reimbursed for the expense, and
  • the payment or reimbursement is a fringe benefit (including an exempt benefit).

Record keeping for work-related expenses

You must be able to substantiate your claims for deductions with written evidence if the total amount of deductions you are claiming is greater than $300. The records you keep must prove the total amount, not just the amount over $300.

If the total amount you are claiming is $300 or less, you need to be able to show how you worked out your claims, but you do not need written evidence.

There is more information on written evidence in Keeping your tax records.

Advance expenditure

If you have prepaid an amount for a service costing $1,000 or more, and the service extends for a period of more than 12 months or beyond 30 June 2014 (such as a subscription to a journal relating to your profession), you can claim only the portion that relates to the 2012-13 income year. You can also claim the proportion of your pre-paid expenses from a previous year that relate to the 2012-13 income year. For more information, see Deductions for prepaid expenses 2013 (NAT  4170).


If you received an allowance that you showed at item 2 on your tax return, you may be able to claim a deduction for your expenses covered by the allowance but only to the extent that you actually incurred those expenses in producing your employment income and the basic rules discussed on the previous page are satisfied. For example, if you received a tools allowance of $500 and your tool expenses were $300, you include the whole amount of the allowance at item 2 on your tax return and claim a deduction of $300 at item D5.

Decline in value of a depreciating asset

You may be able to claim a deduction for the decline in value of a depreciating asset which you held during the 2012-13 year to the extent that you used it to produce income that you show on your tax return.

A depreciating asset is an asset that has a limited effective life and can reasonably be expected to decline in value over the time it is used. Depreciating assets include items such as tools, reference books, computers and office furniture.

The decline in value of a depreciating asset is worked out on the basis of its effective life. You can either make your own estimate of its effective life or use the Commissioner's effective life determinations (see Taxation Ruling TR 2012/2 Income tax: effective life of depreciating assets for assistance with both).

You might be able to claim an immediate deduction for the full cost of depreciating assets costing $300 or less provided certain conditions are met. For more information, see the Guide to depreciating assets 2013.

Where to go next