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The ultimate guide to tax deductions 2018

You can claim a range of tax deductions in Australia, some without receipts.

When you’re completing your tax return, you may be able to claim a number of expenses that are directly related to earning your income. Deductions are purchases that you can deduct from your total taxable income, meaning you could pay less tax. Your taxable income is the income that your tax is calculated on.

This guide will look at the general rules surrounding tax deductions, as well as some specific examples and legislation. If you want information on a specific deduction, you can skip ahead to the examples and questions section of the guide.

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Updated December 20th, 2018
Name Product Fee for unlimited income items (Wages) Deduction Item Fees Payment Options Online tax returns On-site tax returns
finder Exclusive: $99 flat fee
Included in flat fee
Credit/Debit card
Bank Transfer
Pay with your tax refund (no upfront payment)
Australia wide
Melbourne
finder Exclusive: This discounted fee is only available to customers who apply for a tax return with A One Accountants through finder. Students, seniors and non-permanent residents enjoy a further discount with a $77 flat fee. Click 'Go to site' and complete the contact form to find out more. T&Cs apply. Option to pay with your tax refund for an extra fee of $22. Lodge returns online, via phone or in person.
$79*
$0 when you purchase the $49 income package
Credit/Debit card
Pay with your tax refund (no upfront payment)
Australia wide
N/A
Option to pay with your tax refund for an extra fee of $10 for basic returns. Lodge individual & company tax returns. Fast online form & free live chat.
$80*
$0 for up to $1000 of deductions
$30 for more than $1000 of deductions
Credit/Debit card
Cash
Australia wide
Sydney
Fast and reliable tax returns for individuals, businesses and self-managed super funds (SMSFs).
$80*
Business tax: starting from $250
General deductions: $0
For motor vehicle expenses: $15
Credit/Debit card
Australia wide
Perth
A boutique firm that provides personalised experiences for all customers. Ideal option for individuals and small businesses based in Perth.
One Minute Tax
One Minute Tax
$99*
$0
Credit/Debit card
Pay with your tax refund (no upfront payment)
Australia wide
Melbourne
Option to pay with your tax refund for an extra fee of $20. Lodge individual & company tax returns. Fast online form & free live chat.
$99*
$0 for up to 2 deductions
$29 for additional deductions
Credit/Debit card
Pay with your tax refund (no upfront payment)
Australia wide
Sydney
Option to pay with your tax refund for an extra fee of $29. Online and in-person tax services for individuals, sole traders and companies.
$99*
Business tax: starting from $179
$29 for up to 2 deductions
Additional $29 for extra deductions
Credit/Debit card
Bank transfer
Pay with your tax refund (no upfront payment)
N/A
Melbourne
Option to pay with your tax refund for an extra fee of $29. Basic tax returns over the phone Australia-wide. In-person individual and business tax returns in Melbourne.
$155*
finder Exclusive: $5 discount
$0 for all work related deductions
Bank transfer
Credit/Debit card
Australia wide
Canberra
finder Exclusive: $5 discount when you apply for a tax return with Bennetts Tax through finder. Click 'Go to site' and complete the contact form to find out more. Income item fee includes returns on interest, dividends, Superannuation and pension. A flexible option for individuals, sole traders and companies.

Compare up to 4 providers

Updated December 20th, 2018
Name Product Fee for unlimited income items (Wages) Deduction Item Fees Payment Options Online tax returns
finder Exclusive: $99 flat fee
Included in flat fee
Credit/Debit card
Bank Transfer
Pay with your tax refund (no upfront payment)
Australia wide
finder Exclusive: This discounted fee is only available to customers who apply for a tax return with A One Accountants through finder. Students, seniors and non-permanent residents enjoy a further discount with a $77 flat fee. Click 'Go to site' and complete the contact form to find out more. T&Cs apply. Option to pay with your tax refund for an extra fee of $22. Lodge returns online, via phone or in person.
One Minute Tax
One Minute Tax
$99*
$0
Credit/Debit card
Pay with your tax refund (no upfront payment)
Australia wide
Option to pay with your tax refund for an extra fee of $20. Lodge individual & company tax returns. Fast online form & free live chat.
$79*
$0 when you purchase the $49 income package
Credit/Debit card
Pay with your tax refund (no upfront payment)
Australia wide
Option to pay with your tax refund for an extra fee of $10 for basic returns. Lodge individual & company tax returns. Fast online form & free live chat.
$99*
$0 for up to 2 deductions
$29 for additional deductions
Credit/Debit card
Pay with your tax refund (no upfront payment)
Australia wide
Option to pay with your tax refund for an extra fee of $29. Online and in-person tax services for individuals, sole traders and companies.
$80*
Business tax: starting from $250
General deductions: $0
For motor vehicle expenses: $15
Credit/Debit card
Australia wide
A boutique firm that provides personalised experiences for all customers. Ideal option for individuals and small businesses based in Perth.
$155*
finder Exclusive: $5 discount
$0 for all work related deductions
Bank transfer
Credit/Debit card
Australia wide
finder Exclusive: $5 discount when you apply for a tax return with Bennetts Tax through finder. Click 'Go to site' and complete the contact form to find out more. Income item fee includes returns on interest, dividends, Superannuation and pension. A flexible option for individuals, sole traders and companies.
$80*
$0 for up to $1000 of deductions
$30 for more than $1000 of deductions
Credit/Debit card
Cash
Australia wide
Fast and reliable tax returns for individuals, businesses and self-managed super funds (SMSFs).

Compare up to 4 providers

Updated December 20th, 2018
Name Product Fee for unlimited income items (Wages) Deduction Item Fees Payment Options On-site tax returns
$99*
$0 for up to 2 deductions
$29 for additional deductions
Credit/Debit card
Pay with your tax refund (no upfront payment)
Sydney
Option to pay with your tax refund for an extra fee of $29. Online and in-person tax services for individuals, sole traders and companies.
$80*
$0 for up to $1000 of deductions
$30 for more than $1000 of deductions
Credit/Debit card
Cash
Sydney
Fast and reliable tax returns for individuals, businesses and self-managed super funds (SMSFs).

Compare up to 4 providers

Updated December 20th, 2018
Name Product Fee for unlimited income items (Wages) Deduction Item Fees Payment Options On-site tax returns
finder Exclusive: $99 flat fee
Included in flat fee
Credit/Debit card
Bank Transfer
Pay with your tax refund (no upfront payment)
Melbourne
finder Exclusive: This discounted fee is only available to customers who apply for a tax return with A One Accountants through finder. Students, seniors and non-permanent residents enjoy a further discount with a $77 flat fee. Click 'Go to site' and complete the contact form to find out more. T&Cs apply. Option to pay with your tax refund for an extra fee of $22. Lodge returns online, via phone or in person.
$99*
Business tax: starting from $179
$29 for up to 2 deductions
Additional $29 for extra deductions
Credit/Debit card
Bank transfer
Pay with your tax refund (no upfront payment)
Melbourne
Option to pay with your tax refund for an extra fee of $29. Basic tax returns over the phone Australia-wide. In-person individual and business tax returns in Melbourne.
One Minute Tax
One Minute Tax
$99*
$0
Credit/Debit card
Pay with your tax refund (no upfront payment)
Melbourne
Option to pay with your tax refund for an extra fee of $20. Lodge individual & company tax returns. Fast online form & free live chat.

Compare up to 4 providers

Updated December 20th, 2018
Name Product Fee for unlimited income items (Wages) Deduction Item Fees Payment Options On-site tax returns
$80*
Business tax: starting from $250
General deductions: $0
For motor vehicle expenses: $15
Credit/Debit card
Perth
A boutique firm that provides personalised experiences for all customers. Ideal option for individuals and small businesses based in Perth.

Compare up to 4 providers

Updated December 20th, 2018
Name Product Fee for unlimited income items (Wages) Deduction Item Fees Payment Options On-site tax returns
$155*
finder Exclusive: $5 discount
$0 for all work related deductions
Bank transfer
Credit/Debit card
Canberra
finder Exclusive: $5 discount when you apply for a tax return with Bennetts Tax through finder. Click 'Go to site' and complete the contact form to find out more. Income item fee includes returns on interest, dividends, Superannuation and pension. A flexible option for individuals, sole traders and companies.

Compare up to 4 providers

Updated December 20th, 2018
Name Product Fee for unlimited income items (Wages) Deduction Item Fees Payment Options On-site tax returns

Compare up to 4 providers

Updated December 20th, 2018
Name Product Fee for unlimited income items (Wages) Deduction Item Fees Payment Options On-site tax returns

Compare up to 4 providers

Updated December 20th, 2018
Name Product Fee for unlimited income items (Wages) Deduction Item Fees Payment Options On-site tax returns

Compare up to 4 providers

Updated December 20th, 2018
Name Product Fee for unlimited income items (Wages) Deduction Item Fees Payment Options On-site tax returns

Compare up to 4 providers

*This is the minimum fee charged for income item tax returns. The price listed on this table is subject to terms and conditions. To find out more or to receive an accurate quote for your tax return, please visit the agent's website to submit an enquiry.

The products compared on this page are chosen from a range of products finder.com.au has access to track details from and is not representative of all the products available in the market. Products are displayed in no particular order or ranking. The use of terms "Best" and "Top" are not product ratings and are subject to our disclaimer. You should consider seeking independent financial advice and consider your personal financial circumstances when comparing products.

What are work related tax deductions?

Work related deductions are expenses that you incur as a direct result of your occupation. The Australian Tax Office (ATO) is very specific in its definition of work related deductions and will check to ensure that they are legitimate.

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

If your purchase meets any of the following requirements, you may be able to claim it as a tax deduction with The ATO:

  • The purchase or expense was made in the tax year for which you are claiming the deduction.
  • 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

Read this guide for more info on what you can claim as a tax deduction and some tax deductions you may have forgotten.

What are some things I can claim on tax?

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.

  • Formal education courses related to your field and provided by a professional association
  • The attendance of a work related seminar
  • 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
  • Home office expenses
  • The premiums for income protection insurance

Reduce your tax expenses and save on income protection in one go

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 licence, 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.
  • Even if provided an allowance by your employer, you are not automatically entitled to a deduction.

How do income tax deductions work in Australia?

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.

Taxable income table

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.

Take a look at the table below to see which tax bracket you fall into for the 2017/2018 financial year.

Taxable income Tax on this income
$0 - $18,200Nil
$18,201 - $37,00019c for each $1 over $18,200
$37,001 - $87,000$3,572 plus 32.5c for each $1 over $37,000
$87,001 - $180,000$19,822 plus 37c for each $1 over $87,000
$180,001 and over$54,232 plus 45c for each $1 over $180,000

All your tax deduction questions answered!

Need help with your tax return? Use a tax agent.

It is not easy to navigate through all of the applicable deductions, yet you don’t want to miss any as this will affect the amount of taxes you owe or your refund. If you want to ensure that you have included all of the items you have purchased that are tax deductible, you may want to speak to a tax agent or an accountant. Remember, the cost of your accountant is tax deductible!

They can provide you with a comprehensive list of all of the expenses you may have incurred through your job over the year and whether or not you may include it as a deduction.

For help choosing a tax agent, view our table at the top of the page to compare different service types and offerings.

Updated December 20th, 2018
Name Product Fee for unlimited income items (Wages) Deduction Item Fees Payment Options Online tax returns On-site tax returns
finder Exclusive: $99 flat fee
Included in flat fee
Credit/Debit card
Bank Transfer
Pay with your tax refund (no upfront payment)
Australia wide
Melbourne
finder Exclusive: This discounted fee is only available to customers who apply for a tax return with A One Accountants through finder. Students, seniors and non-permanent residents enjoy a further discount with a $77 flat fee. Click 'Go to site' and complete the contact form to find out more. T&Cs apply. Option to pay with your tax refund for an extra fee of $22. Lodge returns online, via phone or in person.
$79*
$0 when you purchase the $49 income package
Credit/Debit card
Pay with your tax refund (no upfront payment)
Australia wide
N/A
Option to pay with your tax refund for an extra fee of $10 for basic returns. Lodge individual & company tax returns. Fast online form & free live chat.
$80*
$0 for up to $1000 of deductions
$30 for more than $1000 of deductions
Credit/Debit card
Cash
Australia wide
Sydney
Fast and reliable tax returns for individuals, businesses and self-managed super funds (SMSFs).
$80*
Business tax: starting from $250
General deductions: $0
For motor vehicle expenses: $15
Credit/Debit card
Australia wide
Perth
A boutique firm that provides personalised experiences for all customers. Ideal option for individuals and small businesses based in Perth.
One Minute Tax
One Minute Tax
$99*
$0
Credit/Debit card
Pay with your tax refund (no upfront payment)
Australia wide
Melbourne
Option to pay with your tax refund for an extra fee of $20. Lodge individual & company tax returns. Fast online form & free live chat.
$99*
$0 for up to 2 deductions
$29 for additional deductions
Credit/Debit card
Pay with your tax refund (no upfront payment)
Australia wide
Sydney
Option to pay with your tax refund for an extra fee of $29. Online and in-person tax services for individuals, sole traders and companies.
$99*
Business tax: starting from $179
$29 for up to 2 deductions
Additional $29 for extra deductions
Credit/Debit card
Bank transfer
Pay with your tax refund (no upfront payment)
N/A
Melbourne
Option to pay with your tax refund for an extra fee of $29. Basic tax returns over the phone Australia-wide. In-person individual and business tax returns in Melbourne.
$155*
finder Exclusive: $5 discount
$0 for all work related deductions
Bank transfer
Credit/Debit card
Australia wide
Canberra
finder Exclusive: $5 discount when you apply for a tax return with Bennetts Tax through finder. Click 'Go to site' and complete the contact form to find out more. Income item fee includes returns on interest, dividends, Superannuation and pension. A flexible option for individuals, sole traders and companies.

Compare up to 4 providers

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.


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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6 Responses

  1. 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?

    • finder Customer Care
      JeniMay 15, 2018Staff

      Hi Robert,

      Thank you for getting in touch with finder.

      As a friendly reminder, while we do not represent any company we feature on our pages, we can offer you general advice.

      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 visit this link.

      I hope this helps.

      Have a great day!

      Cheers,
      Jeni

  2. 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 licence may be a condition of employment, it does not follow that the licence 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. You may refer to ATO’s list of deductions which are allowed for particular occupations. You can find the link on this page.

      Kind regards,
      Liezl

  3. 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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