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  • Common expenses P–S

    Details on claiming common teacher and education professional expenses for:

    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 a private expense.

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

    Example: parking for work-related travel

    Regina is a TAFE lecturer. The course Regina teaches involves some outdoor activities at a location separate to the TAFE. When Regina travels from the TAFE to one of the outdoor activity locations, she has to pay for parking.

    Regina's can claim a deduction for the parking expenses she incurs because the travel between Regina's regular workplace (the TAFE) and the outdoor activity location (alternative work place) is work-related travel.

    End of example

    Phone, data and internet expenses

    You can claim a deduction for phone, data and internet costs for the work-related use of your own phone or electronic devices.

    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 travelling for work. This is because these are personal phone calls.

    Example: calculating phone expenses

    Rita uses her mobile phone for work purposes. She is on a set mobile phone plan of $49 a month and rarely exceeds the plan cap.

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

    At least once a year, and sometimes 2 or 3 times, Rita prints out her account and highlights the work-related phone calls she has made. She makes notes on her account for the first month about who she is phoning for work – her employer, parents, and so on.

    Out of the 300 phone calls she has made in a 4-week period, she works out that 45 (15%) of the individual phone call expenses are for work, and applies that to her cap amount of $49 a month.

    Since Rita was only at work for 38 weeks (8.8 months) of the year, she calculates her work-related mobile phone expense deduction as follows:

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

    45 ÷ 300 = 15%

    Rita can claim 15% of the total bill of $49 for each month for work purposes, that is:

    $49 × 0.15 = $7.35

    Rita's work-related mobile phone expense deduction is calculated as follows:

    8.8 months × $7.35 = $64.68

    End of example

     

    Example: computer used for private and personal use

    Hannah uses her computer and personal internet account at home to access her work emails and to grade her year 12 students' English assignments. Hannah uses her computer and the internet for work and private purposes.

    Hannah's internet use diary showed 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 × 10% = $120 as work-related internet use

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

    End of example

    Protective items

    You can claim a deduction for the cost of protective items, equipment and products – for example, safety glasses, helmets and personal protective equipment such as face masks or sanitiser. You must use these items:

    • to protect you from the real and likely risk of injury or illness in your work environment or while performing your work duties – for example, working in close proximity to students while working
    • in direct connection to earning your employment income.

    You can also claim the costs you incur to repair, replace or clean protective items.

    You can't claim a deduction if your employer:

    • supplies the protective items
    • pays for the protective items
    • reimburses you for the costs you incur to buy protective items.

    Example: protective item required for specific role

    Chee is a chemistry teacher. To avoid the risk of getting harmful chemicals in his eyes and on his skin, Chee buys some to safety glasses and gloves to wear when he is helping students conduct experiments.

    Chee can claim a deduction for the cost of the safety glasses and gloves.

    End of example

    Registration renewal fees

    You can claim a deduction for the cost of renewing your teaching registration, if you need it in order to perform your work duties.

    You can't claim the initial cost of applying for your teaching registration. You incur this expense to enable you to start employment, not while earning your income.

    Removal and relocation expenses

    You can’t claim a deduction for the cost to transfer or relocate to a new work location. This is the case whether the move is a condition of your existing job or you are taking up a new job.

    Example: relocating due to transfer

    Carol is a primary school teacher in Brisbane. She transfers to a position at a Sunshine Coast primary school for 2 years.

    Carol can't claim a deduction for her relocation costs, rent or other living expenses.

    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.

    Self-education and study expenses

    You can claim a deduction for self-education and study expenses if it directly relates to your employment as a teacher or education professional and 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 if the self-education or study course:

    • 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 and study expenses are deductible, you can claim expenses such as course 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.

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

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

    If you have set aside a home office to do your study, you may also be able to claim work from home running expenses, but not occupancy expenses.

    You generally can't claim a deduction for the first $250 of expenses for self-education.

    Example: self-education claims

    Trevor currently has a Bachelor of Education and is studying for his master's qualification in education. Trevor uses the self-education expenses category table to determine the type of self-education expenses he can claim.

    Trevor incurs deductible self-education expenses of $2,800 in the income year for tuition fees, textbooks and deductible travel expenses. He also incurs $100 of childcare fees and $70 in travel expenses that aren't ordinarily deductible self-education expenses.

    Self-education expenses are broken into 5 categories, Trevor's expenses are both 'category A' and 'category E' expenses, so he will need to reduce his claim for self-education expenses as follows:

    $250 reduction − self-education expenses not normally deductible (category E) = reduction amount

    $250 − ($100 + $70) = $80

    Deductible self-education expenses (category A) − reduction amount = total claim amount

    $2,800 − $80 = $2,720

    Trevor can claim a deduction of $2,720 for his self-education expenses.

    End of example

     

    Example: self-education for a new job

    Louis is a maths teacher at a secondary school. He is undertaking a Bachelor of business and commerce hoping to obtain employment as an accountant.

    Louis can't claim a deduction for the cost of the degree because while the studies will improve his knowledge in a general way in his current employment, the primary purpose is to gain new employment as an accountant.

    End of example

     

    Example: education expenses you can't claim

    Brianna, a university lecturer, was having difficulty coping with work due to stress. She attends a 4-week course in stress management. She attended the course after hours and paid for it herself.

    Brianna can't claim a deduction for the cost of the course because it wasn't designed to maintain or increase the skill or specific knowledge required in her current position.

    End of example

    Seminars, conferences and training courses

    You can claim for the cost of seminars, conferences and training courses that relate to your work as a teacher or education professional.

    The costs you can claim includes fares to attend the venue where the seminar, conference or training course is held and registration costs. If you need to travel and stay away from home overnight to attend such an event, you can also claim the cost of accommodation and meals.

    You may not be able to claim all of your expenses if attending a seminar, conference or training course is for both work-related and private purposes. If the private purpose is incidental, such as a catered lunch or a reception for delegates, you can still claim all your expenses. However, if the main purpose is not work-related, such as attending a conference while on a holiday, you can only claim the direct costs. Direct costs include the registration costs.

    Where you have a dual purpose for attending the seminar, conference or training course, for example you add a holiday of one week to a training course that runs for one week, then you can only claim the work-related portion.

    Example: attending a work-related training course and having a holiday

    Ravi is a primary school teacher in Brisbane. He attends a 2-day training course in Cairns about teaching students who learn in different ways. Ravi stays in Cairns for 5 days after the course for a holiday. Ravi pays for:

    • his flights to Cairns
    • his accommodation and meals while in Cairns
    • the cost of the course.

    Ravi can claim the full cost of the course as it is related to his employment as a primary school teacher. Ravi can also claim the cost of accommodation and meals for the 2 days he attends the training course.

    As Ravi's trip to Cairns is for work-related and private purposes, Ravi can't claim the full cost of his flights to and from Cairns. As Ravi spends 2 days out of the 7 days he is in Cairns attending the course, he can claim 28% of the cost of his airfare.

    Ravi can't claim the cost of his accommodation and meals while he is on holiday in Cairns.

    End of example

    Social functions

    You can't claim the cost of attending staff dinners or other social functions.

    Example: school formal ticket not deductible

    Raymond is a high school teacher. He must attend the school formal as part of his duties. Raymond spends $95 on the ticket which covers the cost of a 3-course meal and a drink.

    Raymond can't claim a deduction for the cost of the formal ticket ($95). The cost of entertainment by way of food and drink is not deductible.

    End of example

    Stationery

    You can claim a deduction for the cost of logbooks, diaries, cardboard and pens that you use for work. For example, to record the behaviour of students or making learning materials to display in your classroom.

    You can't claim a deduction if your employer provides or reimburses you for these expenses.

    Student expenses

    You can't claim a deduction for the cost of items you supply to students for their own needs, gifts purchased for students or meeting students’ personal expenses. For example, paying for a student's lunch.

    Example: gifts for students

    Wanda is a primary school teacher. At the end of each school year, Wanda likes to purchase each of her students a small Christmas gift.

    Wanda can't claim a deduction for the cost of the gifts. The expense is private.

    End of example

    Sunglasses, sunhats and sunscreens

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

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

    For example, if you're the school sporting coach for track and field events, in addition to your teaching duties.

    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: deduction available for sunscreen

    Jackie, a teacher, buys a bottle of high protection sunscreen to wear once a week at the school sports afternoons held outdoors. Jackie is required to attend to provide supervision. She also wears a sunhat and sunglasses to protect her from exposure to the sun.

    She doesn't wear that particular sunscreen at any other time. Jackie can claim a deduction for the cost of the sunscreen, as well as the sunglasses and sunhat. If Jackie uses the sunglasses and sunhat for private purposes, she will need to apportion her deduction for those items.

    End of example

    For more teachers and education professionals' expenses, see:

      Last modified: 16 Aug 2022QC 22569