Making tax time stress free

It’s that time of year again when you need to start thinking about your tax. But before you rush to lodge your return, it’s important to double check what you can and can’t claim. 

Check out these tips to make tax time simple

Clothing and uniform expenses (including footwear)

With a few exceptions, clothing is a private expense. Conventional clothing (including footwear) can’t be deducted 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, jeans and drill shirts worn by tradespeople or apprentices. 

You can claim a deduction for costs you incur to buy, hire, repair, replace or clean clothing, uniforms and footwear you wear at work if it’s:

  • protective clothing you wear to protect yourself from specific risks of injury or illness at work. The clothing must have protective features or functions (for example, steel capped boots, fire resistant clothing or boiler suits that protect clothing). 
  • occupation specific clothing that distinctly identifies you as a person associated with a particular profession, trade or occupation.
  • a compulsory uniform which must be sufficiently distinctive to your particular organisation so that a casual observer can clearly identify you as working for a particular employer, or identify the products or services provided by your employer. To be considered compulsory, you must be expressly required to wear it by a workplace agreement or policy, which is strictly and consistently enforced. 
  • a non-compulsory uniform you wear to work that is listed on the Register of Approved Occupational Clothing with AusIndustry (check with your employer if you’re not sure).

Travel expenses

You can claim a deduction for expenses you incur when you travel for work and sleep away from 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). Receiving an allowance from your employer doesn’t automatically entitle you to a deduction.

In all cases, you must be able to show you were away overnight, you have spent the money, the travel was directly related to earning your employment income and how you worked out your claim.

Car expenses

You can claim the cost of using a car you own, lease or hire (under a hire-purchase arrangement) when you drive 

  • between separate jobs on the same day 
  • to and from an alternate workplace for the same employer on the same day.

You can’t claim the cost of normal trips between home and work, even if you live a long way from your usual workplace or work outside normal business hours. 

In limited circumstances, you can claim the cost of trips between home and work, where:

  • you had shifting places of employment (that is, you have no fixed place of work and you continually travel from one work site to another during your working day).
  • you carry bulky tools or equipment for work, and all the following apply:

– the tools or equipment are essential to perform your employment duties and you don’t carry them merely as a matter of choice
– the tools or equipment are bulky – meaning that because of the size and weight they are awkward to transport and can only be transported conveniently by motor vehicle
– there is no secure storage for such items at the workplace.

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

Tools and equipment 

You can claim a deduction for:

  • tools or equipment you use for work, such as an air compressor, drill or hammer
  • tool insurance
  • the cost of repairs to your tools and equipment. 

If a tool or equipment costs: 

  • more than $300 – you can claim a deduction for the cost over a number of years (decline in value)
  • $300 or less (and doesn’t form part of a set that costs more than $300) – you can claim an immediate deduction for the whole cost. 

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

You can’t claim a deduction for tools and equipment that are supplied by your employer or a third party. 

Use the myDeductions tool in the ATO app to make keeping records easier. The app is particularly useful for people who use their car for work. At tax time, the data from the app can be sent directly to your tax agent or uploaded into myTax.

Check the ATO’s industry specific guides to understand what you can claim at