Tax Deductions

How do tax deductions work?

The basic Australian income tax formula is: Tax rate x taxable income = tax payable.

Taxable income = assessable income less deductions.

So, tax deductions reduce tax payable in an indirect way.

John’s tax rate is 30% and his assessable income is $100,000 and his deductions are $10,000.
John’s taxable income is $100,000 less $10,000 = $90,000.

John’s tax payable before tax deductions is 30% x $100,000 = $30,000.
John’s tax payable after tax deductions is 30% x $90,000 = $27,000.

The dollar value of John’s tax deductions is his tax rate (30%) x his deductions ($1,000) = $3,000.

John’s $10,000 in tax deductions does not equal $10,000 less tax payable.

Summary: The value of tax deductions depends on the tax rate.

For further information see these articles:
Taxable Income
Tax Refund & Tax Payable


Normally, if you spend money directly related to earning assessable income, you can claim a deduction for the cost.

Directly related
Costs that are private or domestic in nature are not deductible. You could argue that you need to eat food in order to work, so your workday lunch should be deductible. It’s true you need to eat in order to work, but you would still eat even if you weren’t working. Another example is clothing. You could argue that you must wear clothes otherwise you couldn’t earn income. That’s true, but you would still (hopefully) wear clothes anyway even if you weren’t working.

So food and clothing are some examples of private or domestic costs that are not usually directly related to earning assessable income.

In some limited circumstances food and clothing can be deductible. Overtime meals and meals while travelling may be deductible. Clothing that is occupation specific, protective or logoed may also be deductible.

Assessable income
Assessable income is income that is subject to income tax. Most salary and wage income is assessable income. If you do volunteer work, you won’t receive assessable income, so you can’t claim deductions for costs you incur doing volunteer work. If you earn income from a hobby, it’s not assessable, so you can’t claim deductions for your hobby costs.

If assets such as equipment or tools cost over $300, the cost generally needs to be apportioned (depreciated) each year according to the estimated life of the asset.

To claim a deduction for a work related cost:

you must have spent the money yourself and weren’t reimbursed
it must be directly related to earning your income
you must have a record to prove it

Common Tax Deductions

Depending on your situation, the following costs may be deductible:
Car tax deductions
Travel tax deductions
Clothing and Laundry
Education and Training
Tools and Equipment
Books, Journals, Subscriptions
Memberships, Registrations, Union Fees
Work from home office
Phone and Internet
Overtime Meals
Interest and Dividend Deductions
Gifts and Donations
Tax Preparation and Advice
Superannuation Contributions
Income Protection Insurance

How we can help

At Bristax, income tax is one of our specialist areas. Our tax accountants would be happy to speak or meet with you to discuss your needs. We’ll take the time to understand your circumstances and provide appropriate advice.

Contact us now.

This article is for general information purposes only and has not been prepared with reference to the circumstances of any particular person. You should seek your own independent financial, legal and taxation advice before making any decision in relation to the material in this article.