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  • Common expenses T–W

    Details on claiming common teacher and education professional expenses for:

    Taxi, ride-share, public transport and car hire

    You can claim a deduction for transport costs if you travel in the course of performing your work. For example, taking a taxi from your school to a local pool for the school swimming carnival.

    You can’t claim a deduction for travel expenses between home and work, these are private expenses.

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

    Teaching aids

    You can claim a deduction for the cost of teaching aids used for work. Teaching aids include:

    • stickers, paints, stationery, posters, maps etc
    • items used in cooking or sewing classes or science experiments
    • prizes purchased to reward achievement and encourage students
    • entrance fees for school excursions
    • whistles and stopwatches (this doesn't include conventional watches with a stopwatch function) used by physical education teachers
    • calculators.

    Teaching aids you buy must be used as part of your teaching job. For example, a maths, physics or accounting teacher would use a calculator whereas a drama or English teacher would not. If you can use the teaching aid for both work and another purpose you can only deduct a portion of the cost where you use the aid for work.

    Tools and equipment

    You can claim a deduction for tools and equipment if you use them to perform your duties as a teacher or education professional.

    You can only claim a deduction for the work-related use of the item.

    If the tool or equipment cost you $300 or less, you can claim a deduction for the full amount in the year you buy it, if:

    • you use it mainly for work purposes
    • it's not part of a set that together cost more than $300.

    You can claim a deduction for the cost over the life of the item (that is, decline in value), if the tool or equipment:

    • cost more than $300
    • is part of a set that together cost more than $300.

    If you bought the tool or item of equipment part way through the year, you can only claim a deduction for the decline in value for the period of the income year that you own it. Use the Depreciation and capital allowances tool to work out your deduction.

    You can also claim a deduction for the cost of repairs to tools and equipment that you use for work purposes.

    You can’t claim a deduction for tools and equipment that your employer or a third party supplies for use.

    Example: laptop used for work

    Maria is a university lecturer. She uses her laptop to access her University email account, for developing lesson plans and for reviewing students' work and assignments.

    Maria only uses the laptop for work purposes. Maria has another computer which she and her family use for private purposes.

    Maria can claim a deduction for the decline in value of the laptop over its effective life as she uses it to carry out her employment duties.

    End of example

    Travel expenses

    You can claim a deduction for travel expenses you incur when your work requires you to both:

    • travel for work
    • sleep away from your home overnight in the course of performing your employment duties.

    Expenses you can claim include your accommodation, meals and expenses which are incidental to the travel (incidentals). For example, when you travel interstate to attend a work-related conference, seminar or training course.

    You can't claim a deduction for travel expenses where you don't incur any expenses, because:

    • you slept in accommodation your employer provides
    • you eat meals your employer provides
    • your employer or a third party reimburses you for any costs you incur.

    Receiving an allowance from your employer doesn’t automatically mean you can claim to a deduction. In all cases, you must be able to show:

    • you were away overnight
    • you have spent the money
    • the travel directly relates to earning your employment income
    • how you work out your claim.

    If you receive a travel allowance you must include it as assessable income in your tax return unless all of the following apply:

    • the travel allowance is not on your income statement or payment summary
    • the travel allowance doesn't exceed the Commissioner of Taxation's reasonable amount
    • you spent the whole allowance on deductible accommodation, meal and incidental expenses (if applicable).

    The Commissioner's reasonable amount is set each year. The amount is used to determine whether an exception from keeping written evidence applies for the following expenses which are covered by a travel allowance:

    • accommodation
    • meals
    • incidentals.

    You don’t have to keep written evidence such as receipts if both of the following apply:

    • you receive a travel allowance from your employer for the expenses
    • your deduction is less than the Commissioner’s reasonable amount.

    If you claim a deduction for more than the Commissioner’s reasonable amount you need to keep receipts for all expenses, not just for the amount over the Commissioner’s reasonable amount.

    Even if you are not required to keep written evidence such as receipts, you must be able to explain your claim and show you spent the amounts. For example, show your work diary, that you received and correctly declared your travel allowance and bank statements.

    Example: more and less than the reasonable amount

    Melanie is a secondary school teacher in a Victorian country town. She must attend a teacher training course in Melbourne for 3 days as the schools requires.

    Melanie receives a travel allowance covering the cost of meals, accommodation and incidental expenses. Her employer pays the airfares directly. The travel allowance is shown on her income statement.

    Melanie paid $220 per night for her accommodation. Melanie eats at the same places each day and spends $25 for breakfast, $20 for lunch and $40 for dinner. Melanie spends $45 on incidentals. The amount Melanie spends on accommodation and incidentals is higher than the reasonable amount but the amount she spends on meals is less than the reasonable amount.

    Melanie can claim a deduction of $305 per day for accommodation and meals and $45 for incidentals while attending the course that is required by the school.

    Melanie can't claim a deduction for the airfares as she doesn't pay for the cost of the airfares.

    Because Melanie has spent more than the reasonable amount for accommodation and incidentals, she must keep written evidence. Evidence includes receipts, to support her total claim for accommodation and incidental expenses.

    End of example

     

    Example: less than the reasonable amount

    Joe is a senior lecturer at a university in Queensland. The university requires Joe to travel to a university in Sydney to provide training for five days. Joe's employer provides him with an allowance to cover the cost of his accommodation while he is in Sydney. The university paid for Joe's airfares. Joe doesn't receive an allowance for meals or incidental expenses. The travel allowance for accommodation is shown on his income statement.

    Joe paid $245 per night for his accommodation. The reasonable amount for accommodation for an employee on Joe's annual salary is $264. Joe eats at the same places each day and spends $29 for breakfast, $35 for lunch and $55 for dinner.

    Because Joe has spent less than the reasonable amount on accommodation, he can claim a deduction for the $245 per night that he spends on accommodation. As Joe hasn't received an allowance to cover his meal expenses, he must keep receipts for all of his meal expenses.

    Joe can't claim a deduction for the airfares as he has not paid for the cost of the airfares.

    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?
    • TD 2022/10 Income tax: what are the reasonable travel and overtime meal allowance expense amounts for the 2022–23 income year?

    Union and professional association fees

    You can claim a deduction for union and professional association fees you pay. You can use your income statement as evidence of the amount you pay if it's shown on there.

    Vaccinations

    You can't claim a deduction for the cost of vaccinations such as the flu shot, even if you're employer requires you to have them for work. The expense relates to your personal health and is a private expense.

    Working from home expenses

    You may be able to claim a deduction for working from home expenses you incur as an employee. These can be additional running expenses such as electricity, phone and internet expenses, and the decline in value of equipment or furniture. You must:

    • use one of the methods set out by us to calculate your deduction
    • keep the records required for the method you choose.

    Example: lesson preparation and marking assessments at home

    Moira is a primary school teacher. Once per week, Moira works at home after school hours preparing lesson plans for the following week. She also sets exams and marks assessments when necessary. Moira has a room in her home set aside as a study which also contains a desk and chair. Moira uses her employer provided laptop when she is working at home.

    Moira can claim the cost of lighting, heating and cooling the study while she is working in the room. Moira can also claim the decline in value of the desk and chair she uses while working.

    Moira must keep records of her electricity expenses, the purchase of her desk and chair along with records setting how she works out her deduction.

    End of example

     

    Example: room used by others used for work

    Bill is a TAFE teacher who occasionally works from home. When he works at home, he sits in the lounge room with the rest of his family.

    Bill can't claim a deduction for any additional running expenses because he doesn't incur any as a result of working from home.

    End of example

    There are some expenses you can't claim a deduction for as an employee. Employees who work at home can't claim costs:

    • for coffee, tea, milk and other general household items your employer may provide you at work
    • for your children and their education including    
      • setting them up for online learning
      • teaching them at home
      • buying equipment such as iPads and desks
    • your employer pays for or reimburses you for the expense
    • for the decline in value of items provided by your employer – for example, a laptop or a phone.

    Generally as an employee, you can’t claim occupancy expenses (rent, rates, mortgage interest and house insurance premiums), unless your home office is both:

    • your only place of work because no other work location is provided by your employer
    • exclusively or almost exclusively used for work purposes.

    You can’t claim a deduction if your employer paid for your home office to be set up or reimburses you for the expenses you incur.

    The Home office expenses calculator helps you work out the amount you can claim as a deduction for home office expenses.

    For more information, see:

    • PS LA 2001/6 Verification approaches for home office and electronic device expenses
    • TR 93/30 Income tax: deductions for home office expenses
    • PCG 2020/3 Claiming deductions for additional running expenses incurred whilst working from home due to COVID-19

    For more teacher and education professionals' expenses, see:

    Find out about teacher and education professionals':

      Last modified: 16 Aug 2022QC 22569