A Simple Tax Deductions Guide for Apprentices and Trainees

If you are an apprentice or trainee, did you know you may be eligible to claim a variety of expenses on your tax return, such as protective gear or work-related education? We want to help you get the maximum refund you are entitled to, so we put together this guide to tax deductions for trainees and apprentices.

We’ll cover what you can claim as an apprentice, what you can’t claim as an apprentice, mock scenarios of what can and can’t be claimed, and tips on lodging your tax return as an apprentice or trainee.


Can Apprentices Claim Any Deductions?

As an apprentice or trainee, you may be eligible to claim a variety of work-related expenses. However, the Australia Tax Office (ATO) has specific guidelines on what you can and can’t claim.

To claim expenses, you must have proof of the expenses or purchase, such as a receipt or invoice.

Here are questions to ask yourself to help determine if you can claim an expense as an apprentice:

  • Was I reimbursed by my employer for the purchase?
  • Was the product or expense directly related to earning my income?
  • Do I have proof of any purchases, such as invoices or receipts?
  • Did I spend my own money on the work-related items?


What Trainees and Apprentices Can Claim As Deductions

Here are examples of work-related expenses you may be eligible to claim as a trainee or apprentice.

Remember to keep receipts for all of your work-related purchases. Also, keep in mind this list is only meant to serve as a guide, not professional tax advice. Working with a certified tax professional is the best way to ensure an accurate return that gets you the highest amount you are eligible for.

Occupation-Specific Clothing, Uniforms, or Safety Gear

If your apprenticeship requires a branded uniform, occupation-specific clothing, or safety gear, you may be eligible to deduct these expenses.

Remember, non-branded clothing is not tax deductible. Even if your employer requires you to wear tan pants, you cannot claim the purchase of these pants. Uniforms must be branded in order to be eligible to be claimed.

If you purchase safety gear but are reimbursed by your employer, these expenses are not deductible.

You may be eligible to deduct dry cleaning or laundering for uniforms. Keep any receipts for dry cleaning costs, repairs, or the purchase of safety items.

Here are some examples of items you may be eligible to claim:

  • Branded clothing or uniforms
  • Protective footwear (i.e. steel capped boots)
  • Safety glasses
  • Hard hats
  • Briefcase or workbag
  • Non-slip shoes
  • Protective vests
  • High-vis wear
  • Sunscreen, hats, or sunglasses if you work outside

Example: Meet Sam, who is completing an apprenticeship to become a bricklayer

Sam needs to wear safety glasses, a high-vis vest, a hard hat, and steel-capped boots during his training. Sam purchases these items, totaling $390. Sam’s employer reimburses him for the expenses of purchasing these safety items. Sam is not eligible to claim these expenses on his tax return.

Vehicle Expenses

Overall, the general rule is that you cannot claim vehicle expenses for travel from your home to work. However, if your position requires you to transport bulky or heavy tools that have no safe space to be stored at work, you may be eligible to claim work-related car use.

If you use a personal vehicle to travel from one work site to the other, to meet customers, or to pick up supplies, you may be eligible to claim those personal vehicle expenses.

There are two methods for claiming personal vehicle expenses:

  • The Logbook Method — If you have work-related vehicle expenses, you can keep a logbook for 12 consecutive weeks that details both personal and work trips. Then, you can calculate the work-related percentage to claim it on your tax return. Here’s a look at how to keep a car logbook: A Simple Guide to Keeping a Car Logbook for Tax Purposes
  • The Cents Per Kilometre Method — The cents per kilometre covers all expenses related to using your vehicle for work-related purchases. No additional expenses can be claimed as a deduction when using this method.

Tools or Work-Related Equipment Expenses

As an apprentice or trainee, you may be required to purchase certain tools or equipment with your own money. If so, you may be eligible to claim these expenses;

For work-related items below $300 and purchased with your own money, you can claim it in full.

Items more than $300 will need to be claimed with depreciation factored in. A tax agent can help run the calculations for you.

If tools are used for both personal and work-related use, you’ll need to calculate a work-related percentage to claim.

As with any work-related purchases or expenses, you’ll need proof of purchase or receipts to claim these expenses.

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Self-Education Expenses

You are most likely completing ongoing education as a trainee or apprentice. You may qualify for deductions on any expenses associated with self-education. The education needs to relate directly to your current job to be eligible.

Here are examples of possible education deductions for education expenses: 

  • Training manuals, Internet usage, or textbooks for self-education purposes related to improving your skills or increasing your income at your current position
  • Work-related seminars or conferences
  • Annual cost to renew your practising certificate
  • Work-related training courses
  • Professional publications, journals, or magazines related to your job

Example: Meet Jane, a plumbing apprentice

Jane is currently training to be a plumber but is also taking carpentry classes to increase her skills and job options. Jane cannot claim education expenses for the carpentry classes.

Phone and Internet Expenses

If you are required to use a personal laptop or internet for work-related tasks, you may be eligible to claim a portion of your work-related phone or internet usage.

Keep a detailed logbook for one month that outlines the amount of time you use your internet or phone for business and personal use.


What Trainees and Apprentices Can’t Claim As Deductions 

As a general rule, you can’t claim non-work related expenses, personal expenses, or purchases that have been reimbursed by your employer.

Here are examples of expenses you can’t claim as a Trainee or Apprentice:

  • Driver’s license renewal fees
  • Social or entertainment functions
  • Equipment or tools needed for your position but provided by your employer
  • Education costs not related to your current job
  • Personal grooming expenses (cosmetics, skincare products, hair products)
  • Child care
  • Uniforms, equipment, or safety gear that you bought yourself but were reimbursed for
  • Relocation costs
  • Prescription glasses or contact lenses
  • Fines or penalties
  • Buying, cleaning, or repairing regular clothing
  • Mileage driven from your home to your workplace (even if you live far away from your job or work outside of normal business hours)
  • Self-education costs related to starting a different job


Tax Tips for Trainees and Apprentices

Here are tips for apprentices and trainees to maximise their tax return:

  • Refer to the Australia Tax Office (ATO) guide to deductions for apprentices and trainees for a detailed look at what expenses you can and cannot claim
  • Keep any bank statements, receipts, invoices, or credit card statements for work-related expenses or purchases
  • Maintain thorough records of all work-related purchases or expenses
  • To claim an item, it must be directly related to your current position, have been purchased with your own money, and you must have proof of the purchase
  • If you are reimbursed for a work-related expense, do not claim it
  • Stay informed on current tax laws and legislation
  • Take advantage of the many useful tax tools offered by the ATO app, such as the myDeductions tool that automatically enters your tax information from the previous year
  • Keep pictures of receipts and store them in a folder so you have them all in one place when you need to lodge your return
  • Ask your employer if there are any entitlements or tax incentives you have access to
  • We recommend lodging your return at the end of July in order to have plenty of time to meet the deadline
  • To lodge a 100% accurate return that ensures you get the maximum return you are eligible for, work with a tax professional  

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Want to Know Which Deductions You Are Eligible for as an Apprentice or Trainee? Consult Our Tax Professionals

Are you trying to get the maximum refund you are eligible for as an apprentice? Our goal is to take all the stress out of tax time so you can relax and wait for your refund, knowing you are getting the maximum amount you are entitled to.

If you are a trainee or apprentice and have questions about lodging your tax return or what you can and can’t claim, our experienced tax professionals are here to help. Contact us by emailing support@taxreturn.com.au, phoning us at 0499 829 829 (0499 TAX TAX), or filling out our online contact form.