What can I claim for tax? Office Workers

With the end of the financial year coming up, people start to think about tax. What expenses can I claim?

July 2011 update: Check out my latest tips for those working in retail, hospitality, office workers and tradies at: http://www.nomoney.com.au/taxtips

Claim what you might be entitled to

The basics

You must incur the expense in the course of earning your assessable income; that isn’t private, domestic or capital in nature.  And where it is partly private etc. you can only claim the business percentage.

What does that mean in ENGLISH!

Basically, just because you buy something that you need in order to be employed or you need in order to do for your job, doesn’t mean you can always claim it as a tax deduction.  You can’t claim your suit, lunch, client’s lunch, speeding fine you got on the way to meet a customer etc.

And you can’t claim entertainment either (pretty hard to get a tax deduction for that!).

See more on the ATO website: http://www.ato.gov.au/individuals/content.asp?doc=/content/16077.htm&page=2&H2

General Office Job – What you might be able to claim

Here are a few of the main tax deductible expenses that employees might have:

- Client calls you make from your mobile/home phone.

- Taxi/Car travel from work to client (if you have paid – not if you have been reimbursed by your boss).

Car Expenses

There are a few different ways to claim car expenses.

Under 5,000 business kms (cents per km or logbook)

Cents Per Kilometre – this is the simplest method (and least documentation).

Business kilometres (up to 5,000) x ATO cents per km  = Tax Deduction

The ATO cents per km changes but in the 2009 year a 1.6-2.6 engine could claim 74c per business kilometre.

So say you did 6,000 business kms you can only claim 5,000kms maximum x ATO rate (say 74c) = $3,700 deduction

So 5 trips to client x 5kms (x 2 if you went back to work afterwards) x 74c = $37 tax deduction

Logbook – if you keep a logbook, write out which trips are business so at the end you will get a business percentage (eg. 120 business kms/ 1,200 total kms = 10% logbook percentage). Then you can claim X% of your car expenses like petrol, rego, etc.

But it does gets a bit complicated when you add depreciation and whether the car is on lease or HP (hire purchase).

If you have traveled over 5,000 business kms there are two other methods you can choose to use – 12% original cost or 1/3rd actual expenses (but if you use your car mainly for business you might be better off under the logbook).

Doing Work at Home

- Business Percentage of the cost of your internet/home phone etc.

For example, you might claim 10% of your internet cost (10% x $50/month x 12 months) as you do some work from home and $80 for home phone calls (you made about 16 interstate long calls which cost about $5 each).

Obviously if you just check your work email address to see if any friends have emailed you (or your boss hasn’t sent you anything while you are away), then that might not be ‘working from home’.

But if you do a bit of work from home then the ATO has a Guide to claiming business deductions (including working from home) at the following link:


Things that you might be able to claim if your work hasn’t already paid

- Travel for a predominately business trip (bad news if you tacked a long holiday on the end).

- Associations/Union fees (note you can’t claim social club fees)

- Professional journals/memberships

See also ATO Miscellaneous work related expenses:  http://www.ato.gov.au/individuals/content.asp?doc=/content/18839.htm&pc=001/002/013/008/001&mnu=924&mfp=001/002&st=&cy=1

Check out my latest tips for those working in retail, hospitality, office workers and tradies at:  http://www.nomoney.com.au/taxtips

Posted in Tax
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  • Daniel Handley

    If i do work on a train to and from work, can i claim it on tax?

  • Scott

    Hi Daniel
    Claim your train ticket?
    Generally no. Train trip from home to work and back are generally not deductible (deemed to be private by the ATO).

    Also just because you do small work at home (say check your emails)- doesn’t mean you can always claim – I’ve updated the article a little bit more about this.

  • E Byrne

    Hi, I use a smartrider card to travel on TRANSPERTH services (taxi and train) to and from work. and everytime i reload it is with EFTPOS and it says on my statements. Can i claim this?? Also, occasionally I would take Taxis to and from work, can i claim that too? Thank You

  • Scott


    It is rare you can claim costs to and from work if you work a job. So with your train fare – if is just home to work and back you can’t claim it (even if you check your emails on your phone on the way).

    Tradies with heavy equipment can claim travel costs, but office workers – generally no.

    Of course – if you travel from work to a client (and work doesn’t reimburse you) then Yes for that leg (travelling home from the client wouldn’t be deductible). If you travelled from work, client, back to work then Yes – all of the trip is deductible.

    See Car and Travel expenses on the ATOs website for a bit more info.

  • Johnny Smith


    For the deduction of membership fees, can I deduct the membership fees I pay for my Chartered Accountancy that is based in the UK?


  • Pip

    I am doing a Cert IV Business Administration course that the Government has subsidized thru work.
    As this is a correspondence online course, i do 99% of it from home (on my own time as i am too busy thru work hours) and have had to buy new Microsoft Office Software to be able to do a majority of it.
    What can i claim? Can i also claim internet usage

  • http://www.nomoney.com.au Scott

    Hi Johnny
    I try not to give specific advice – but one-on-one I’d ask about what sort of job you do & whether the CA subscription has a link to the work you do.

  • AmandaCody

    I have an older truck that I use only for work, but since my work takes me out of town into three different provinces can I claim more than 5,000? That’s about one months worth of travel for me..

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