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  • Common expenses A–F

    Details on claiming common teacher and education professional expenses for:

    Bags and cases for work items

    You can claim a deduction for bag or a case if you use it to carry items for work. Work items include laptops, tools, client briefs and protective gear but don't include private and domestic items like gym gear, food or a personal phone or tablet. Your job must require you to transport work items and the bag must be suitable for that purpose.

    If the bag or case cost you $300 or less, and you use it for work only, you can claim a deduction for the whole cost in the year you purchase it. Otherwise you can claim a deduction for the decline in value of the bag over its effective life.

    If you use a bag or case to carry both work and private items, you need to apportion the expense between work-related and private use, and you can only claim the work-related portion.

    Example: bag for work laptop and personal items

    Fran is a secondary school teacher. Her employer has issued her with a laptop which is used by Fran to prepare lesson plans and to review her students' homework. Fran buys a laptop bag for $55 and a large handbag for $400 to carry her lunch, mobile phone, wallet and other personal items she might need during the day. Occasionally she puts some documents she needs to take home to review in her handbag.

    Fran can claim a deduction of $55 for the laptop bag. The laptop bag is designed to carry a work item (laptop) that Fran needs to transport to work each day.

    Fran can't claim a deduction for the decline in value deduction of her handbag. Although she occasionally takes work documents home in her handbag, it's not designed for the purpose of carrying documents and her work-related use is incidental to her personal use of her handbag.

    End of example

    Books, journals and professional library

    You can claim a deduction for the total cost of a publication you buy (including technical journals and reference books) if:

    • it cost less than $300
    • you use the publication mainly for work-related purposes, that is more than half of the time for work purposes
    • the publication isn't part of a set you start to hold in that income year where the total set costs more than $300
    • the item isn't one of a number of identical or substantially identical items that together cost more than $300.

    Items are generally considered to be part of a set if all of the following factors are met. They are:

    • interdependent
    • marketed as a set
    • designed and intended for use together.

    If you subscribe and pay for a publication in advance for more than one year, you must divide the cost equally over the whole subscription period.

    You can claim the decline in value of your professional library over its effective life, if:

    • each individual item cost more than $300
    • the item is part of a set or a number of items that are identical or substantially identical which cost more than $300.

    Example: claiming decline in value of an item that cost more than $300

    Marie is an accounting lecturer. She buys an accounting book costing $350 to add to her professional library.

    Marie can’t claim a deduction for the full cost of the book. This is because the total cost to be added to her professional library is more than $300. Instead, she must claim the decline in value of the book over the effective life of her professional library.

    End of example

     

    Example: claiming decline in value of a set

    Paula is a university lecturer. During the income year she buys a series of 6 English literature books. Each book cost $65. The books are designed so students move on to the next book only when they have successfully completed the previous one. The books are marketed as a set and are designed to be used together.

    Paula can't claim an outright deduction for the full purchase price of any of these books because:

    • each book forms part of a set, that she buys in the income year
    • the total cost of the set was more than $300.

    Instead, she must claim the decline in value on the books over the effective life of her professional library.

    End of example

    Car expenses

    You can't claim a car expense deduction for normal trips between your home and regular place of work. These are private expenses, even if you:

    • live a long way from your usual or regular workplace
    • have to work outside normal business hours (for example, weekend or early morning shifts).

    In limited circumstances, you can claim the cost of trips between home and work, such as where you carry bulky tools or equipment for work or where you had shifting places of employment.

    To be able to claim a deduction for the cost of trips between home and work while carrying bulky tools or equipment, all the following conditions must be met:

    • the tools or equipment are essential to perform your employment duties
    • the tools or equipment are bulky, meaning that    
      • because of the size and weight, they are awkward to transport
      • they can only be transported conveniently using a motor vehicle
    • there is no secure storage for such items at the workplace.

    It will not be sufficient if you transport the tools or equipment merely as a matter of choice. For example, if your employer provides reasonably secure storage, your decision to transport items home will be a matter of choice.

    You are considered to have shifting places of employment where you have no fixed place of work and you continually travel from one work site to another during your working day.

    You can also claim a deduction for the cost of using a car you own, lease or hire (under a hire-purchase agreement) when you drive:

    • directly between separate jobs on the same day – for example, travelling from the school to a separate job as a waiter
    • to and from an alternative workplace for the same employer on the same day – for example, if you drive some students to another school to compete in a debating competition
    • from home directly to an alternative workplace – for example, travelling from home to the local swimming pool for the school swimming carnival.

    You can claim a deduction for the cost of using your car to transport students – for example, to and from a sporting venue.

    You can't claim car expenses for a car you use under a salary sacrifice or novated lease arrangement. This is because it's usually your employer leasing the car from the financing company and making it available for your use. You can however claim additional work-related expenses you incur that are associated with your work use of the car such as parking and tolls.

    To claim a deduction, you must keep records of your car use. You can choose between the cents per kilometre method or the logbook method to work out your deduction.

    If you use the logbook method, you need to keep a valid logbook to help you work out the percentage of work-related use along with evidence of your car expenses.

    If you use the cents per kilometre method, you need to be able to show how you work out your work-related kilometres. You must be able to show that the kilometres travelled were work-related.

    If you claim your work-related car expenses using one of the above methods, you can’t claim any further deductions in the same tax return for the same car. For example, petrol, servicing, and insurance costs.

    To claim a deduction in your tax return, include the amount of your claim at Work-related car expenses. The Work-related car expenses calculator can help you work out the amount you can claim as a deduction.

    You can’t use the cents per kilometre or logbook methods to work out your claim for a:

    • motorcycle
    • vehicle with a carrying capacity of one tonne or more (such as a ute)
    • vehicle that can transport 9 passengers or more (such as a people mover van).

    For these vehicles, you can claim the actual expenses you incur for your work-related travel. This includes costs such as fuel, oil, insurance and loan interest along with the decline in value of the vehicle. You must keep receipts for all your expenses and records to show your work-related use of the vehicle. Although you are not required to keep a logbook, it is the easiest way calculate your work-related use of the vehicle.

    To claim a deduction for actual expenses you incur for a vehicle not defined as a car, include the amount at Work-related travel expenses.

    Example: using your car to transport students

    As part of his coaching duties, Jeremy collects several students and transports them from their homes to the sporting field on a Saturday. After the match, he returns the players to their homes and continues his journey home.

    Jeremy can claim a deduction because he's transporting students to the sporting venue.

    End of example

     

    Example: transporting equipment

    Belinda is a drama teacher at a high school and each year she works with the students on the annual production as part of her job. During terms 2 and 3, the school starts rehearsals for the production. On one day each week during these terms, Belinda carries bulky props and costumes, that she has been working on at home, to school for the rehearsals. There is no secure storage for the items at school.

    Belinda can claim a deduction for the cost of travelling between her home and the school on the one day she carries the bulky items.

    Belinda can't claim a deduction for the cost of travelling between her home and the school on the other 4 days she drives to work or for any days during terms one and 4. This travel is normal home to work travel not travel in carrying out her employment duties and is private in nature.

    End of example

     

    Example: choosing to transport bulky equipment

    Ramona takes her students' books home to mark rather than sitting in her office to mark them after school. Ramona can carry the books in a large carry bag.

    Ramona can’t claim the costs of travelling between her home and the school each day. The books are not bulky and Ramona chooses to take them home every day. The travel is private travel between her regular place of employment and her home.

    End of example

     

    Example: travelling between 2 jobs

    April travels directly from the school where she's a teacher to the TAFE college where she gives night lectures. She can claim a deduction for the travel expenses she incurs because she travels directly from one workplace to the other.

    April uses the myDeductions tool in the ATO app to record her trips in the digital logbook so that she has an accurate record of the kilometres she travels in the income year. She uploads the information from myDeductions to her tax return when she is ready to lodge.

    End of example

     

    Example: travelling from work to an alternative workplace that isn't a regular workplace then home

    Wayne travels from his normal school to a regional administrative centre for a meeting. After the meeting, he travels directly home.

    Wayne can claim a deduction for the expenses because he has travelled to an alternative workplace and then home. He incurs expenses for his travel from:

    • the school and the regional administrative centre
    • the regional administrative centre to his home

    Wayne can't claim a deduction for the expenses he incurs for his travel from his home to school (his regular workplace). The cost of this travel is private.

    End of example

     

    Example: travelling from home to an alternative workplace that isn't a regular workplace then to work

    Zareb travels from home to a marking centre to mark exams. He then travels to his normal school.

    Zareb can claim a deduction for the expenses he incurs to travel from home to the marking centre and then to his normal school because the marking centre is an alternative workplace.

    Zareb can't claim a deduction for the expenses he incurs to travel directly from his normal place of employment (the school) to his home. The cost of this travel is private.

    End of example

     

    Example: travel between home and work more than once a day

    Amanda finishes work and returns home at the end of the school day. At 6:00 pm, she returns to school to hold parent-teacher meetings until 9:00 pm.

    Amanda can't claim a deduction for her after-hours travel from her home to the school. It is a private expense.

    End of example

     

    Example: on call or relief teaching

    Michael is a stand-by relief teacher who works at various schools. He is usually informed of which schools he'll be working at on short notice. The schools are located varying distances from his home. Each day, Michael travels to a single school and returns home each night.

    Michael can't claim a deduction for travel between his home and the school he is relieving at. Even though Michael is on call, the expenses of travelling to the school are not expenses he incurs in the course of carrying out his duties. These expenses are also private.

    End of example

     

    Example: working outside normal business hours

    Kyoko goes to work the week before the school term starts to prepare for her year 12 geography class.

    Although Kyoko has travelled to work during her holidays, she can't claim a deduction for the travel expense she incurs. The expenses are not expenses she incurs in the course of carrying out her duties and are private.

    End of example

     

    Example: salary sacrifice car under a novated lease

    Amy is a university lecturer. Amy uses a salary sacrifice arrangement to get the use of a car under a novated lease. She uses the car to drive to the university every day as well as for some work-related travel – for example, when she needs to go another campus during her working day.

    Even though Amy sometimes uses the car for work purposes, she can't claim any of the expenses that relate to running her car as it is on a salary sacrifice arrangement.

    End of example

    Child care

    You can't claim a deduction for the cost of child care (including school holidays and before and after school care) when you're working. It's a private expense, and the expenses have no direct connection to earning your income.

    Clothing and uniform expenses (including footwear)

    With a few exceptions, clothing can't be deducted as a work-related expense.

    You can't claim conventional clothing (including footwear) as a work-related expense, even if your employer requires you to wear it and you only wear these items of clothing at work.

    'Conventional clothing' is everyday clothing worn by people regardless of their occupation – for example, business attire worn by teachers.

    You can claim a deduction for costs you incur to buy, hire, repair or replace clothing, uniforms and footwear you wear at work if it's in one of the following categories:

    • Protective clothing – clothing that has protective features or functions that you wear to protect you from specific risks of injury or illness at work. For example, hats, sunglasses steel capped boots or aprons that protect conventional clothing. Conventional clothes you wear at work are not regarded as protective clothing if they lack protective qualities designed for the risks of your work. This includes jeans, drill shirts, shorts, trousers, socks, closed shoes.
    • Occupation-specific clothing – clothing that distinctly identifies you as a person with a particular profession, trade or occupation. For example, a judge's robes or a chef's chequered pants. Items traditionally worn in a profession are not occupation-specific where the clothing is worn by multiple professions.
    • A compulsory uniform – clothing that your employer strictly and consistently enforces you wear by workplace agreement or policy and distinctly identifies either    
      • you as an employee working for a particular employer
      • the products or services your employer provides.
    • A non-compulsory uniform – clothing that your employer registers on the Register of Approved Occupational Clothing with AusIndustry.

    You can't claim a deduction if your employer buys, repairs or replaces your clothing.

    Example: buying clothing to keep warm at work

    To keep warm whilst supervising students in the playground, Tam buys a hoodie from a retail outlet in the school colours.

    Tam can’t claim a deduction for the hoodie (regardless of the colour) as the need to keep warm is a personal requirement.

    End of example

     

    Example: protective footwear

    Dan is a design and technology teacher at a secondary school. He teaches practical skills in a range of areas such as wood, metal, and electronics. As his classroom is set out like a workshop with heavy and dangerous tools, he wears enclosed steel-capped boots.

    Dan is responsible for buying the footwear and incurs the initial cost. However, he is eligible for and submits a request to be reimbursed for the cost he has incurred through the Department for Education.

    Dan can't claim a deduction for the cost of his protective footwear as he is reimbursed by his employer.

    End of example

    Driver's licence

    You can't claim a deduction for the cost to get or renew your driver's licence, even if you must have it as a condition of employment. This is a private expense.

    You can claim a deduction for additional costs you incur to obtain a special licence or condition on your licence in order to perform your duties.

    Example: driver's licence and heavy vehicle permit required for duties

    Tina, an employee teacher, requires a driver's licence and a heavy vehicle permit to drive the school bus for excursions.

    Tina can claim a deduction for cost of the heavy vehicle permit because it is directly related to her employment duties.

    Tina can't claim a deduction for the cost of getting or renewing her driver's licence.

    End of example

    Excursions, school trips and camps

    You can claim a deduction for costs incurred when taking students on excursions, camps, educational and sporting trips if these trips have an educational benefit related to the curriculum or extracurricular activities of the school.

    For example, a science teacher, accompanying students on a camp to study the ecology of the rainforest.

    Example: cost of school trip deductible

    Benito is a teacher in Brisbane. Benito also coaches the school soccer team. He accompanies the soccer team to Rockhampton for the Queensland interschool competition. The soccer team is representing the school and Benito is attending as the coach.

    Benito and the soccer team fly to Rockhampton and stay in camp like accommodation. Breakfast and dinner is provided as part of the cost of the camp accommodation but Benito and the students have to buy their own lunch.

    Benito can claim a deduction for the cost of flying to Rockhampton, the camp accommodation and the cost of his lunch each day.

    End of example

     

    Example: overseas tour not deductible

    Beverley is a high school history teacher. Beverley and her partner decide to take a tour of western Europe which visits some historical sites that Beverley covers in her classes.

    Beverley can't claim a deduction for the cost of her trip to Europe. Although the tour visits some historical sites that Beverley teaches about, the work-related purpose of the trip is incidental to the private purpose of taking a holiday.

    End of example

    Fines and penalties

    You can't claim a deduction for any fines you get when you travel to work or during work. Fines may include parking and speeding fines or penalties.

    First aid courses

    You can claim a deduction for the cost of first aid training courses if you are both:

    • a designated first aid person
    • need to complete a first aid training course to assist in emergency work situations.

    You can’t claim a deduction if your employer pays for or reimburses you for the cost of the course.

    Fitness expenses

    You can’t claim gym and fitness expenses (such as skipping ropes, weights and other fitness equipment) even if you need to pass medical examinations and fitness tests to maintain your employment for your role. These are private expenses except in very limited circumstances.

    You can claim a deduction for gym and fitness expenses if you require an extremely high level of fitness. This will be the case where strenuous physical activity is an essential and regular element of your work.

    You can’t in any circumstances claim a deduction for expenses you incur to buy conventional clothing you use in the course of keeping fit. This includes tracksuits, running or aerobic shoes, socks, sporting shirts or shorts.

    Example: gym fees to keep fit

    Hector is a physical education teacher. Hector joins his local gym and works out several days a week to keep himself fit.

    Hector can't claim a deduction for the gym fees. Hector is not tested on his fitness and although keeping fit assists him in carrying out his duties, his job does not require strenuous physical activity.

    End of example

    For more teachers and education professionals' expenses, see:

      Last modified: 16 Aug 2022QC 22569