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  • Common expenses G–O

    Details on claiming common guard and security employee expenses for:

    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.

    Grooming expenses

    You can't claim a deduction for hairdressing, cosmetics, hair and skin care products, even though:

    • you may receive an allowance for grooming
    • your employer expects you to be well groomed when at work.

    All grooming expenses and products are private expenses

    Guard dog expenses

    You generally can't claim guard dog expenses, unless:

    • your work duties require you to use a guard dog
    • it is a requirement of your employment that you provide your own guard dog
    • you train the dog to be a guard dog from a young age
    • the dog is only for use at work and isn't treated like your pet or your family's pet.

    Ongoing guard dog expenses include food, veterinary expenses and registration costs.

    You can't claim a deduction for the initial cost of buying the dog. The initial cost is a capital expense. However, you can claim the decline in value of the dog over its effective life.

    You can't claim a deduction if your employer provides the dog or pays for its costs.

    Example: guard dog not connected to employment

    Gabby is a security officer who owns a German shepherd as a guard dog for her protection at home. Gabby can't claim a deduction for maintaining the dog as it is a private expense.

    End of example

    Laundry and maintenance

    You can claim a deduction for the costs 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
    • a uniform either non-compulsory and registered with AusIndustry 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 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 but you will still need to calculate and be able to show how you work out your claim. This isn't an automatic deduction.

    Example: laundry expenses

    Jelani is a prison guard. Her employer provides all staff with compulsory uniforms. She cleans her uniforms as a separate load of washing twice a week. Jelani worked for 48 weeks during the year.

    Jelani can claim a deduction for cleaning her uniforms as they are compulsory for her to wear at work.

    Jelani's claim of $96 for laundry expenses is worked out as follows:

    Number of claimable laundry loads per week × number of weeks × reasonable cost per load

    2 × 48 × $1 = $96

    End of example

    Licences, permits and cards

    You can’t claim the cost of getting your initial licence, regulatory permit, cards or certificates to get a job. For example, your private security licence.

    You can claim a deduction for the additional costs you incur to get or renew your licence, regulatory permit, card or certificate to continue to perform your work duties.

    Example: security licence

    William is a trainee security guard on probation. On satisfactory completion of the relevant units of competency for obtaining his security licence, William will be made a permanent offer of employment.

    William completes the relevant units of competency and applies for his security licence. The initial cost of obtaining the licence is $160. The licence has to be renewed each year at a cost of $140.

    William can't claim a deduction of $160 for the initial cost of his security licence. When William renews his security licence a year later, he can claim a deduction for the renewal fee of $140.

    End of example

    Meal and snack expenses

    You can't claim a deduction 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
    • cost of meals you incur when you are travelling overnight for the purpose of carrying out your employment duties (travel expenses).

    Example: no deduction for food and drink consumed

    Elsa is a security guard at a night club. As she works in the evening, she purchases dinner when she has her meal break.

    Elsa can't claim a deduction for the cost of food and drinks she buys when she is on her meal break. The food and drink is consumed during her normal shift and are private in nature.

    End of example

    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 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.

    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. This is called the 'reasonable amount'. If you receive an overtime meal allowance, are claiming a deduction and spent:

    • up to reasonable amount, you don’t have to get and keep receipts
    • more than the reasonable amount, you must get and keep receipts for your expenses.

    In all cases, you need to be able to show:

    • you spent the money
    • how you worked out your claim.

    Example: deduction for overtime meal

    Ravi is a security officer. Thirty times during the year Ravi works overtime after completing his normal eight-hour shift. He receives an overtime meal break and overtime meal allowance of $20 under the award each time this occurs.

    Ravi generally buys and eats a meal costing $15 during overtime. Ravi's income statement shows the overtime meal allowances as a separate allowance totalling $600. That is, 30 overtime shifts × $20.

    In his tax return, Ravi includes the allowance as income and claims a deduction. He works out his deduction as:

    $15 × 30 overtime shifts = $450

    That is the actual amount he spent on overtime meals multiplied by the number of overtime shifts.

    As the amount Ravi spent on his meals is less than the reasonable amount, he doesn't have to keep receipts. However, if asked, Ravi will have to show that he spent the $450 on overtime meals and how he works out his claim.

    End of example

    For more information, see TD 2021/6 Income tax: what are the reasonable travel and overtime meal allowance expense amounts for the 2021-22 income year?

    For more guard and security employee expenses, see:

      Last modified: 16 May 2022QC 19679