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Tax deductions: What can I claim on tax?

There are heaps of work-related expenses you can claim on tax, like home office costs, tools and equipment, conference fees and work-related travel.

Work-related deductions are things you've paid for as a direct result of your job – think your work phone, work computer, your uniform or work-related equipment.

The Australian Tax Office (ATO) is very specific in its definition of work related deductions and will check to ensure that your claims are legitimate.

How do I know if I can claim something as a tax deduction?

You may be able to claim something as a tax deduction if:

  • The purchase or expense was made in the tax year for which you are claiming the deduction (in other words, it's not an expense from a few years ago)
  • The expense was directly related to your employment
  • If the expense was related to your employment and also for personal use, you can prove what portion is used for your employment.
  • You paid for the expense yourself and it has not been reimbursed by your employer
  • You have proof of the purchase, such as receipts or a logbook, to support your claim for all deductions over $300

If you're unsure, it's best to contact the ATO or your tax agent to confirm, warns CPA Australia spokesperson Gavan Ord.

"The ATO uses data-driven profiles based on things like employment type and financial investments to identify where some people may be pushing the boundaries, and they use highly sophisticated analytics to scrutinise all claims, including those relating to working from home and motor vehicle expenses, income from rental properties, as well as undeclared income from investments like cryptocurrency," Ord says.

"Your tax return is your personal responsibility, and you should be as thorough as possible when declaring your income and claiming deductions. Failure to properly declare all of your income, or over-the-top expense claims, may set off alarm bells and your claims could be rejected if you don't have the evidence."

What are some things I can claim on my tax return?

Depending on your circumstances, you may be able to claim the following as a deduction on your Australian tax return. Remember to ensure these meet the criteria in the checklist above.

  • The cost of using a tax agent
  • The cost of travelling to and from your tax agent's office
  • Formal education courses related to your field and provided by a professional association
  • Work related seminars
  • The purchase of journals, magazines and/or books relevant to your field
  • The attendance of work related conferences or education workshops
  • Tools and equipment necessary to perform your job with success
  • Union fees
  • Meals purchased while working overtime
  • The purchase of protective products needed for the course of your work, such as sunglasses
  • Computers and software used in the course of your employment
  • Part of your mobile phone bill if you use it for work
  • Home office expenses
  • The premiums for income protection insurance
  • Contributions to your super fund (within the concessional contributions limit)
  • The use of your car if you need it to go to various different locations for work (not to travel to your main office)

Finder survey: How many Australians file their taxes on time?

Response
Yes77.27%
I did not file taxes this year14.73%
No8%
Source: Finder survey by Pure Profile of 1113 Australians, December 2023

What’s not claimable as a tax deduction?

There are some expenses that you incur during the year that may seem work related, but are not an allowable deduction. These include, but are not limited to the following:

  • The cost of obtaining a driver’s license, even if it’s a necessary condition for employment. If the job requires a special driver’s licence, the difference in cost between that and a standard licence may be allowed.
  • Vaccinations against diseases that may be contracted through the course of employment.
  • Child care expenses are not deductible, although you might be eligible for a child care rebate or child care benefit.
  • The cost of commuting to and from work.
  • Grooming expenses such as hairdressing and makeup.
  • Relocation expenses.
  • The cost of a police clearance certificate or police record check.

Extra questions on tax deductions

How do I claim home office expenses?

If a part of your employment entails working from home, you are entitled to claim expenses related to any electronic equipment that is necessary to carry out your job responsibilities. This includes computers, printers, work related phone calls, lighting, heating and cooling and cleaning expenses. It is very important that you keep detailed records of all of these expenses including a diary that works out how much you used the space and equipment for work over a representative four week period. Alternatively, you could use the fixed rate method, Ord says – when you can claim a set rate of 67 cents for every hour worked from home. "Having records mean you can choose which works best based on your individual circumstances," he says.

Are there different tax deductions for different occupations?

Your expenses as an employee will be unique depending on your chosen occupation, and there are certain allowances made for different fields. For example, certain performing artists may be allowed to claim hairdressing and makeup as a deduction, while a real estate agent may not, even though appearance is also an important component of that occupation. If you're looking for information on a specific occupation, you can find it via the ATO's website.

Can I claim deductions without receipts?

You generally don't need receipts for some small deductions less than $300. Despite not needing a receipt, you may still need to be able to demonstrate how you've calculated the deduction. The Australian Tax Office can ask for supporting evidence of any deductions made on a tax form. If you are unable to provide receipts or purchase orders the claim could be denied. If your total claim is equal to or more than $300 you must have evidence to support it all, not only for the amount in excess of $300. Those records should be kept for a minimum of five years after the tax form has been lodged.

Is my car tax deductible?

Travel to and from work is not a deductible expense, but you may be able to claim travel related to your work if you're using your own vehicle. For example, the cost of driving directly to work is not claimable, however if you need to drive your own vehicle to several sites throughout the day this may be claimable. You'll need to keep a detailed log book if you want to claim these trips. Read our guide on motor vehicle tax deductions for more information.

Can you claim car parking and tolls as a tax deduction?

You can not claim car and travel expenses for costs incurred travelling to and from your workplace, as this is classed as private use. This includes parking costs and tolls. However, if you can prove that you are required to drive your car to and from work to carry bulky tools or equipment, you may be able to claim these expenses.

If you are required to travel from your workplace to other sites, for example to client meetings, this is then classed as work-related travel and you may be entitled to claim parking and toll costs. Remember to keep all receipts and proof in the form of a log book.

Are parking tickets, fines and penalties tax deductible?

No, you can not claim parking tickets as a tax expense, even if you were parking for work. Any violation of the law is not tax deductible. However, you may be able to request your employer pay the ticket or reimburse you. This is of course at the discretion of your employer.

Can I claim my uniform, clothing, laundry and dry-cleaning expenses?

You can only claim clothing expenses if you can prove they are a required part of your employment, such as a nurse or police officer uniform. It must have a logo and it must be compulsory to wear. In certain circumstances you may be able to claim clothing expenses if it's required to keep you safe, for example protective glasses.

Can I claim gifts and donations as a tax deduction?

If you wish to claim a donation or gift as a tax deduction, you must first ensure that the receiving organisation has the status of being a deductible gift recipient (DGR). You also can't receive anything material in return for the donation, and it must be in the form of money or a financial asset (e.g. you can't claim clothes you've donated).

Are school fees tax deductible?

No, school fees and school uniforms are not tax deductible. You also can't claim the cost of attending school excursions, tutoring, sports and music equipment or school photos.

Are medical and health expenses tax deductible?

In special circumstances, you may be able to claim expenses for disability aids, attendant care or aged care. However, this tax offset is determined by assessing your income and family status. The ATO will determine what tax offset, if any, you're entitled to receive.

Is my accountant tax deductible?

Absolutely! You can claim the cost of hiring an accountant or tax professional to lodge your tax return in the following year's tax return. This is the beauty of seeking professional advice instead of trying to lodge your return yourself.

Is a police check tax deductible?

In some cases, yes. The initial cost of getting your first check in order to gain your first job in the industry is not deductible. However, if you've already been working in the industry and you're required to get a new check in order to continue your employment, you may be able to claim this.

What tax deductions can you claim without receipts?

Some expenses may not come with a physical receipt. For example, if you work from home sometimes and want to claim a portion of your home internet costs, you won't have a receipt for this usage as it's only partly work-related. As a general rule, you can claim up to $300 without receipts. However, this isn't a green light to simply claim $300 back each year. You still need to be able to show how you calculated the expenses.

How much can I claim on tax?

There is no limit to the amount you can claim on tax each year. However, you need to have proof of the expenses you're claiming.

Can I claim expenses from my investments as tax deductions?

Certain expenses related to the management of your investments may be deducted. For example, any fees you've paid towards the management of your investment can be deducted from your earned income, as can the interest repayments on any money you've borrowed to invest with. Subscriptions to market news and analysis may also be claimed under certain circumstances. You can also claim credits for certain types of income you earn from your investments, such as dividends. You may also like to read our guide on tax deductions for share traders and investors.

Can I claim self-education expenses?

If you take a course in order to obtain a formal qualification relevant to your occupation you can deduct a portion of the tuition fees plus certain other expenses related to the class. You need to be able to prove that the course is directly related to your job and will likely result in you increasing your income.

Can I claim tools, equipment and other assets?

The cost of tools and equipment is deductible if they are necessary for the scope of your employment. The cost of the equipment dictates the type of deduction you can claim. For example, if an item is not a part of a set and costs less than $300 or is a part of a set that costs less than $300 you can claim the cost. If they cost more than $300 you can claim a deduction for their decline in value.

Other deductions

There may be other expenses that you can claim as well, such as books or periodicals that relate to your occupation. Consider if the expense was necessary to earn your income and not private. If so, and it does not fall under the 'what's not claimable' category mentioned above, there is a chance that you can claim it.

If you are unsure if you will be able to deduct an expense, it is best that you keep the receipt and either contact the Australian Tax Office or consult with a qualified tax expert when it comes time to complete your tax forms. Attempting to reduce your income with non-eligible expenses could result in a rejection of your claim and further scrutiny by the Australian Tax Office.

Using deductions to reduce your taxable income

Your taxable income is the total amount of money that you’re required to pay tax on. By claiming a work related expense as a tax deduction, you are reducing your taxable income and therefore reducing the amount of tax you’re legally required to pay.

For example, if your total taxable income is $50,000 and you claim $2,000 worth of work related expenses as tax reductions, your total taxable income will be reduced to $48,000. This means you will only pay tax on that $48,000.

In some cases, claiming work related deductions may even push you down into a lower tax bracket. For example if your taxable income is $38,000 and you claim $2,000 worth of deductions, your taxable income will fall into the lower tax bracket. Of course, this is subject to the ATO’s approval of your claimed deductions. In some cases, claiming work related deductions may even push you down into a lower tax bracket. It's important, therefore, to keep a proper account of any work-related expenses you incur over the year, and then assess whether these can be used to reduce your taxable income come tax time.

Tax rates for Australian residents 2023–24

Taxable incomeTax on this income
0 – $18,200Nil
$18,201 – $45,00019 cents for each $1 over $18,200
$45,001 – $120,000$5,092 plus 32.5 cents for each $1 over $45,000
$120,001 – $180,000$29,467 plus 37 cents for each $1 over $120,000
$180,001 and over$51,667 plus 45 cents for each $1 over $180,000

Tax rates for Australian residents 2024–25

Taxable incomeTax on this income
0 – $18,200Nil
$18,201 – $45,00016 cents for each $1 over $18,200
$45,001 – $135,000$4,288 plus 30 cents for each $1 over $45,000
$135,001 – $190,000$31,288 plus 37 cents for each $1 over $120,000
$190,001 and over$51,638 plus 45 cents for each $1 over $180,000

DISCLAIMER: Many of the comments in this article are general in nature and anyone intending to apply the information to practical circumstances should seek professional advice to independently verify their interpretation and the information applicability to their own particular circumstances.

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Alison Banney is the money editorial manager at Finder. She covers all areas of personal finance, and her areas of expertise are superannuation, banking and saving. She has written about finance for 10 years, having previously worked at Westpac and written for several other major banks and super funds. See full bio

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As an authority on all things personal finance, Sarah Megginson is passionate about helping you save money and make money. She is an editor and money expert with 20 years’ experience and an extensive background in property and finance journalism. Sarah holds ASIC RG146-compliant Tier 1 Generic Knowledge certification, and she's a regular media commentator, appearing weekly on TV (Sunrise, Channel 7 news, Nine news), radio (KIIS FM, Triple M, 3AW, 2GB, 6PR) and in digital and print media. See full bio

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8 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    DavidDecember 29, 2018

    On personal income of AUD 90,000 per year only from dividend payment from Australian listed companies with 100% franked dividend payment, how much personal tax should be paid for a resident in Australia?

      AvatarFinder
      JeniDecember 30, 2018Finder

      Hi David,

      Thank you for getting in touch with Finder.

      It is best to seek help from a certified tax agent on this matter. If you consider doing some math on tax deductions, you may use ATO’s simple tax calculator.

      I hope this helps.

      Please feel free to reach out to us if you have any other enquiries.

      Thank you and have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,
      Jeni

    Default Gravatar
    RobertMay 14, 2018

    Self-funded retiree aged 76. My wife is 75 and has no income other than $240 per fortnight. Can I claim her as a dependent?

      AvatarFinder
      JeniMay 15, 2018Finder

      Hi Robert,

      Thank you for getting in touch with Finder.

      A dependant must be an Australian resident for tax purposes. A dependant can be:

      • your spouse
      • a child who is under 21 years old and is not a student
      • a student under 25 years old who is studying full time at school, college or university
      • an invalid or an invalid carer.

      You maintained a dependant or maintained another person if any of the following applied:

      • you both lived in the same house
      • you gave them food, clothing and lodging
      • you helped them to pay for their living, medical and educational costs

      If you had a spouse for the whole of 2016–17 and your spouse worked at any time during the year, we still consider you to have maintained your spouse as a dependant for the whole income year.

      For your reference, please check ATO’s T7 Dependent (invalid or carer) 2014.

      I hope this helps.

      Have a great day!

      Cheers,
      Jeni

    Default Gravatar
    WayneJuly 24, 2017

    My accreditation I can claim yet not my driver’s licence, though I must have a valid licence to obtain accreditation, isn’t my licence a tool of my trade. Can’t earn income with out it. why can’t I claim my driver’s licence?

      Default Gravatar
      LiezlJuly 24, 2017

      Hi Wayne,

      Thanks for your question.

      While the holding of a driver’s license may be a condition of employment, it does not follow that the license fees are deductible. They are private in nature and accordingly not deductible under ATO’s guidelines. However, if the job requires a special driver’s licence, the difference in cost between that and a standard licence may be allowed. Please feel free to read our guide about ATO’s list of deductions.

      If all else fail, you may want to discuss your concern with a qualified tax specialist.

      I hope this helps.

      Kind regards,
      Liezl

    Default Gravatar
    ShawryJuly 6, 2017

    Hi I’m currently employed as a bartender and cook and completed a cert 2 in security operations this year to improve my qualifications, it had units covering first aid, oh&s, a higher level rsa and other relatable skills to my current job can you tell me if i am able to claim the course fees as a deduction on my tax return?
    Kind regards,
    Shawry

      Default Gravatar
      LiezlJuly 6, 2017

      Hi Shawry,

      Thanks for your question.

      As per ATO’s guidelines, you may be able to claim a deduction for self-education expenses if your study has sufficient connection to your current employment and not just generally related. Moreover, it should have honed your work-related skill and have caused or will likely cause an increase in your income. I’m not sure though if your security operation courses can be considered significantly related to your current job. It’s a good idea to contact ATO or check their website for more information on self-education expenses.

      Alternatively, you may check our guide here on ATO’s 2017 job deductions for some helpful information.

      Cheers,
      Liezl

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