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Work-related Self-education Expenses
5 July 2024 - 5 min read

Work-related Self-education Expenses

Work-related self-education is when you undertake a course, conference or seminar that can be directly connected to earning income in your current role.

This means you’re either improving or maintaining a skill set that you require to work in your current position, or you’re gaining skills that could directly increase your earning capacity in your current role. This also applies to people who are self-employed or sole proprietors, just so long as you can justify it as directly relating to your work.

Work-related self-education expenses you can claim

As an example, if you’re a nurse, you can undertake a professional development course to keep your registration current. Any expenses related to this would be claimable. 
But if you decide to study medicine to become a doctor, this would be considered a career change and therefore, any expenses related to your new degree would not be able to be claimed as a tax deduction.

It also should be mentioned that you must be currently employed, or be operating your own business to claim self-education-related deductions. So if you are, for example, made redundant mid-way through your study, you would no longer be able to claim any deductions for your courses or seminars.

Once you’ve ascertained that you can prove that your education is directly work-related, there are a lot of different elements that you may be eligible to claim as a tax deduction.

These include:

  • Any fees for tuition, courses, conferences or seminars that you have paid for (if it’s been paid for by your employer, you can’t claim these costs)
  • Any general costs you incur by doing your work-related self-education:
    • Office consumables (stationery, printer cartridges, paper etc)
    • Computers, office furniture or technical equipment
    • Internet usage 
    • Phone usage (for data or calls)
    • Textbooks
    • Student Union Fees
    • Postage costs
    • Professional or academic journals
    • Equipment repairs for items like computers or tablets
  • Transport costs from either home to your place of education and then home again, or work to your place of education and then back to work. (If you’re travelling between all three in one day, you can only claim the first leg of the journey).
  • Accommodation and meal expenses if your course requires you to be away from home
  • Interest on borrowings if you have taken out a loan to pay for your self-education

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How to calculate your self-education deductions

It’s really important to remember that you consider how much you use each of these items in direct relation to self-education, work and or personal usage.

This is known as apportioning expenses and allows you to consider the percentage you use of, for example, your internet. If you use 80% of your monthly internet for personal use, and only 20% for education purposes, you can only claim 20% of your monthly bill as a part of your self-education deduction.

You can generally claim the total cost of assets if it is under $300. For more expensive assets that cost over $300 (eg. computers or tablets), you can only claim an annual decline in value. It’s always a good idea to consult a reputable tax agent or accountant if you’re unsure.

It’s also worth noting your chosen course must be full-fee tuition, not a Commonwealth-supported place. You also cannot claim the mandatory FEE-HELP repayments that come directly out of your salary.

Claim limits for work-related self-education expenses

There is no real defined limit. What you can claim will be determined by the kind of self-education you’ve undertaken, as well as your income and other factors such as depreciation.

Make sure you keep accurate records and receipts

You must keep all your receipts relating to your claim. This includes receipts for:

  • Course, conference, workshop or seminar fees
  • Textbooks
  • Stationery or office consumables
  • Any item you wish to claim depreciation for like furniture, technical equipment or computers
  • Transport costs 
  • Travel expenses (eg. meals, accommodation if studying abroad)

If you’re claiming vehicle-related expenses, you should keep a log book of kilometres travelled. You can use the cents per kilometre method, which allows you to claim a maximum of 5000km at $0.88 per kilometre for the 2024/2025 financial year. Or, you can use the logbook method which allows you to claim all actual vehicle expenses, including car repairs and annual depreciation of the vehicle.

If asked, you’ll also need to be able to explain how the self-education you’ve undertaken relates directly to your role at the time you incurred the costs you’re claiming.

As with most things tax-related, the better records you keep, the more protected you are in the instance that any of your returns get audited.

How to claim the deduction

If you’re completing your own tax return, you’ll need to complete questions “D4 Work-Related Self-Education Expenses” and/or ‘“D5 Other Work-Related Expenses”.

  • D4 relates to additional expenses incurred as a result of undertaking work-related self-education.
  • D5 is where you can claim the fees for any seminars, courses, conferences or workshops that you attended over the course of the financial year.

If you’re using a professional accountant to lodge your return, they’ll likely run through all the same questions with you to figure out your deduction for the year.

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