Making claims for tax deductions as an Office Worker

If you’re a tradie, read on… At tax time it pays to learn what you can claim. Please do remember to check with your bookkeeper or your accountant. This is just a guide, and your circumstances may be such that this information is incorrect for you.

To make a claim for a tax deduction for work-related expenses…

  • you must have spent the money yourself and have not been reimbursed
  • it must be directly related to earning your income
  • you must have a receipt or an invoice to prove it the purchase took place

You can only claim the work-related part of expenses. You can’t claim a deduction for any part of the expense that relates to personal use.

Car Expenses

Where you use your own car in performing your work-related duties (including a car you lease or hire), you may be able to claim a deduction for car expenses. Again, please do check the intricacies of your claim with your bookkeeper or accountant.

If the travel was partly private, you can claim only the work-related part.

This information relates to car expenses only so we should check what is meant by “a car”.

A car is defined as

  • a motor vehicle designed to carry a load less than one tonne and less than nine passengers.

This does not include motor cycles and similar vehicles or:

  • vehicles that are one tonne or more, such as a ute, truck or panel van are not regarded as a car
  • where a vehicle can carry nine passengers or more, such as a minivan it is not a car.

When you can’t claim

You are unlikely to be able to claim the cost of travel between home and work. This is because this travel is regarded as private.

You cannot claim a deduction for car expenses that have been salary sacrificed. Neither can you make a claim where you have been reimbursed for these expenses.

For motorcycles and other vehicles (that are not cars), you can’t claim work-related deductions under car expenses. In some circumstances you may be able to claim for work-related deductions under travel expenses. You can only claim your actual expenses for these vehicles. You must use the logbook method to show your work-related use.

The Logbook method for recording business mileage

Under the logbook method:

  • Your claim is based on the business-use percentage of the expenses for the car.
  • Expenses include running costs and decline in value but not capital costs, such as  
  • the purchase price of your car
  • the principal on any money borrowed to buy it
  • any improvement costs.

To work out your business-use percentage, you need to keep a logbook and the odometer readings for the logbook period. The logbook period needs to be a minimum continuous period of 12 weeks.

You can claim fuel and oil costs based on either your  

  • actual receipts
  • estimate of the expenses based on odometer records that show readings from the start and the end of the period you had the car during the year.

You need written evidence for all other expenses for the car.

Tools and equipment expenses

You can claim a deduction for tools or equipment that are necessary for you to do your job.

Be aware that if you also use the tools or equipment for private purposes, you can’t claim a deduction for that use. For example, if you have a toolset that you use for private purposes half the time you can only claim for a deduction of 50% of the cost. If the tools or equipment or the money to pay for them are supplied by your employer or another person, you can’t claim a deduction.

If a tool or item of work equipment you only used for work:

  • cost more than $300 – you can claim a deduction for the cost over a number of years
  • cost $300 or less – you can claim an immediate deduction for the whole cost.

Other common deductible expenses Other work-related expenses you can claim include:

  • protective equipment such as sunscreen, sunhats and sunglasses if these are required for you to do your job effectively
  • union fees
  • phone expenses if you have to make phone calls or send texts for work.

Remember, you can only claim the work-related part of the expense and if you are unsure then you should speak to a professional. Someone who knows the right way to claim tax deductions for an office worker would be a bookkeeper or an accountant.

You can refer to the ATO website for some really useful help and guidance.

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