Tax Deductions

There is a formula for tax deductions in Australia. This article shows that and provides examples as guides when doing your taxes.



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:


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Directly related

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

Costs that are private or domestic in nature are not deductible. You could argue that you need to eat food to work, so your workday lunch should be deductible. You indeed need to eat 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


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Depending on your situation, the following costs may be deductible:

Car costs


Uniform cleaning,  Clothes cleaning Dry cleaning

Education and training

Tools and equipment

Books, journals, subscriptions

Memberships, registrations, union fees

Working from home

Sunscreen and Sunglasses

Mobile Phone and internet

Overtime meals

Interest and dividend deductions


Tax preparation and advice

Superannuation contributions

Income protection insurance

Legal fees

Prepaid expenses


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.

This article is for general information only. It does not make recommendations nor does it provide advice to address your personal circumstances. To make an informed decision, always contact a registered tax professional.

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