Tax Time For Nurses: The Do’s and Don'ts

You Tax

Dear nurses of Australia,

This is an open letter from Emma Baxter – YOUtax Director and tax minimisation specialist. I am here to end the gap between you and your tax woes with this clarification of what you can and cannot claim back on tax. 

As tax season comes around each year, the frequent conversation at the brunch table usually revolves around what you plan on spending your tax return on. While it’s tempting to try and ramp up your return so that those plans can be as exciting as possible, it’s definitely not the smart thing to do. From attempts to claim Lego, to dental expenses that argue the necessity of a nice smile and make-up with sunscreen added when working indoors – we’ve indeed seen them all.

So, before you ask, no, you may not fill your ‘other deductions’ section with the most outrageous claims and hope for the best. Today, the ATO utilises some pretty powerful technology which makes it highly unlikely that your overly optimistic claims will make it through the gate. Trust me – the penalty you run the risk of receiving while you’re at it won’t be worth the gamble.

As a rule of thumb, anything this supports your personal wellbeing cannot be claimed as a deduction. You can only claim something as a deduction if that expense was required for you to perform your job. In other words, it must be directly related to earning income.

To finally answer your question, you cannot claim the following expenses as deductions:

  • Glasses - yes they are required for work, but are also needed personally, and are therefore not deductible.
  • Non-specific work clothing - you are required to wear plain clothing (e.g. a plain shirt in company colours) as a uniform. If this shirt does not have a work logo on it, regardless of if you only wear it for work, you cannot claim its cost or cleaning expenses as a deduction.
  • Self-education – if you enrol in a course to ‘upskill’, i.e. to qualify you to move from a carer’s role to a registered nurse role, you cannot claim the cost of the course as a deduction.
  • Travel – the cost of trips to and from work cannot be claimed as a deduction, even if you are asked to work outside of normal business hours.  
  • Child Care – you cannot claim for child care expenses from while you’re at work, it is a private expense.

However, this then begs to question what can you claim?….

  • Travel – only if it is to drive between alternate workplaces (of the same employer) on the same day.  This is like travelling to another hospital, travelling for in-home patient care where you use you own vehicle and are not reimbursed by your employer.  Please note you can still claim travel if you receive a travel allowance. Please speak to us if you need further guidance.
  • Overtime Meals - If and only when you receive a meal allowance can you claim the cost of overtime meals if is exceeds the allowance provided. 
  • Self-education – only if the course relates directly to your current position, e.g. wound care or resuscitation training.
  • Phone and internet – if your employer requires you to use your personal devices for work, but you can only claim the work related portion of the bill. 
  • The renewal of your annual practising certificate, union fees or professional memberships.
  • Protective clothing – If you are required to wear non-slip shoes, they are deductible. 
  • Uniform - Laundry of your occupation specific or compulsory uniform.
  • Conferences – You can claim the cost of the conference ticket, as well as travel, meals and accommodation expenses you have owing to having to attend the conference.

Throughout the year, be sure to keep your receipts on hand so that you're prepared for when tax season comes around again.

If you have any further questions, or you would simply like some help from my team and I at YOUtax.



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