Tax Deductions For Nurses

(last updated 23/04/2014) 

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If you work as a Nurse, Ambulance Offcer or Paramedic, here is a checklist of tax deductions you may be able to claim on your personal tax return.
TAX WARNING FOR NURSES AND AMBULANCE OFFICERS AND PARAMEDICS:
  • Vaccinations: The ATO's view is a deduction is not allowable for the cost of vaccinations as a precaution for nursing employees against contracting infectious diseases.

Car Expenses from Home to Work etc

The cost of travel between home and your place of employment is usually considered private and not deductible.

There are a number of cases and circumstances where travel between home and employment is an allowable deduction:
  • To second job - A deduction is allowable for the cost of travelling directly between two work place - from one employer to another second job.This also applies to travel from work to a place of business where you are engaged in work related activities
  • Transport of Patients-  A deduction is allowable for the cost of travel attributable to the transport of patients in the course of producing assessable income. This is so, even if the travel begins at the employee nurse's home and ends at his or her regular place of employment. The cost of the total distance travelled (beginning at home and ending at work) is allowable. 
  • Between Work Places - A deduction is allowable for the cost of travel from a nursing employee's normal work place to other work places. The cost of travel from the alternative work place back to the normal work place or directly home is also an allowable deduction.
  • Home to Alternative Work Place - A deduction is allowable for the cost of travel from home to an alternative work place. A deduction is also allowable for the cost of travel from the alternative work place to the normal place of employment or directly home
  • Between Home and Shifting Places of Employment - A deduction is allowable for the cost of travel from home where you:  (a) do not work to any regular pattern; (b) there is no long term plan by which you can predict what will be required of you in the future; (c) there is no certainty as to the range of work locations you will attend over a period. 
For a checklist of when travel is not an allowable tax deduction see our post Claiming Work Related Car Expenses.

Agency Costs

  • Agency commissions - A commission payment to a nursing agency is usually met by the hospital, clinic, etc and a deduction is not allowable to the nursing employee. If the nursing employee actually incurs the cost then a deduction is allowable
  • Agency fees - A deduction is not allowable for upfront fees, joining fees or search fees paid to a nursing agency
  • Agency nurses - A deduction is not allowable for the cost of obtaining employment through an agency, including preparation of resumes, calls to the agency as well as telephone/mobile rental, beepers, pagers and answering machines used for contacting the agency. A deduction is also not allowable for the cost of travel to and from employer hospitals, clinics, etc. A deduction may be allowable where a nursing employee is actually employed by the agency.

Work Clothing  

A deduction is allowable for the cost of buying, renting or replacing clothing, uniforms and footwear ('clothing') if:
  • the clothing is protective in nature
  • the clothing is occupation specific and not conventional in nature - NOTE that a traditional nurses uniform is no longer considered deductible as it is not commonly used these days
  • the clothing is a compulsory uniform and satisfies the requirements of Taxation Ruling IT 2641 - for example corporate wardrobe
  • expenditure on shoes, socks and stockings is essentially of a private nature and, even when these items are worn at the request of the employer, their cost will only be deductible in limited circumstances. To qualify for deduction, the items must firstly form an integral part of a distinctive and compulsory uniform the components of which are set out by the employer in its expressed uniform policy or guidelines. In addition, the employer's uniform policy or guidelines should stipulate the characteristics of the shoes, socks and stockings that qualify them as being a distinctive part of the compulsory uniform, e.g., colour, style, type, etc. The wearing of the uniform must also be strictly and consistently enforced, with breaches of the uniform policy giving rise to disciplinary action. It is only in strict compulsory uniform regimes that expenditure on shoes, socks and stockings is likely to be regarded as work-related rather than private in nature
  • the clothing is a non-compulsory uniform or wardrobe that has been entered on the Register of Approved Occupational Clothing of the TCFDA. Details of registered corporate wardrobes can be obtained either from your employer or from the Department of Industry directly on 03 9268 7944. NOTE, there is no longer a public register available on the web. See out post on Non-compulsory Corporate Uniform for additional information.
  • A deduction is allowable for the cost of cleaning, laundry and maintaining clothing that falls into one or more of the categories of deductible clothing above

Meals and Travel  

  • The cost of buying meals when you work overtime, provided you have been paid an allowance by your employer (you can claim up to a maximum of $27.10 (2013 rate) per meal without having to keep any receipts, provided you can show how you have calculated the amount you spent) 
  • The cost of meals and incidental expenses when you are required to stay away from home overnight for work (if you receive an allowance from your employer, you can claim the full amount of that allowance provided it is shown on your PAYG payment summary). If you didn’t receive an allowance, you should keep receipts to prove the amount you have spent on all meals and accommodation 
  • The cost of parking, tolls, taxis and public transport if you are required to travel to attend seminars, meetings and training courses not held at your usual place of work (if you need to stay away overnight you can also claim for the cost of all meals and your accommodation) 
  • The cost of parking fees, bridge and road tolls paid while driving the truck between your depot and your client’s depot (but NOT while driving to and from work) 
  • The cost of using your own car for work, including travel to attend meetings, attend training courses, pick up supplies and driving between or around job sites (to claim for car costs it is usually best to keep a diary record of the number of kilometres you travel during the year for work purposes and then we can calculate the amount of your tax deduction at the end of the year)  

Training

  • The cost of work-related short training courses (for example first aid, OH&S, truck and heavy equipment driving, vehicle maintenance) that are not run by a University or TAFE. You can claim for the cost of any course fees, books, stationery, Internet connection, telephone calls, tools or equipment and travelling to and from the course. You can also claim any accommodation and meal expenses you have to pay if you are required to stay away overnight for your course
  • The cost of self-education courses run by a University (not including HECS/HELP fees) or TAFE that directly relate to your current work. If you are studying you can also claim for the cost of books, stationery, equipment and travel required for your course.
See this post for details on claiming a Tax Deduction for Self Education.

Work Tools and Equipment  

  • The cost of buying and repairing equipment you use at work (including tools, CB radio, portable refrigerator, sleeping bag, electronic organisers, laptop computers and mobile phones) 
  • The cost of any truck repairs, maintenance, spillage or cleaning (provided you are not reimbursed by your employer for these costs) 
  • The cost of any materials or supplies that you buy for use at work (for example safety gear, first aid equipment, backpack or belt bag) 
  • The cost of stationery, diary, log books, work bag or briefcase

Other Allowable Work Expenses 

  • Parking - A deduction is allowable for parking fees (but not fines) and tolls if the expense is incurred while travelling:
        (a) between two separate places of work;
        (b) for self education purposes (if the self education expenses are an allowable deduction);
        (c) in the normal course of duty and the travelling expenses are allowable deductions.
  • The cost of annual memberships or union fees 
  • The cost of nurses registration and other practicing certification
  • Computers, calculators and electronic organisers - A deduction is allowable for the work-related portion of depreciation on the purchase price of these items
  • The cost of work-related books, magazines and journals   
  • Conferences, seminars and training courses - A deduction is allowable for the cost of attending conferences, seminars and training courses to maintain or increase a nursing employee's knowledge, ability or skills in the nursing industry. There must be a relevant connection with the current work activities of the nursing employee
  • First aid courses - A deduction is allowable if it is necessary for a nursing employee to undertake first aid training to assist in emergency situations. If the cost of the course is met by the employer, or is reimbursed to the nursing employee, no deduction is allowable
  • Self education expenses - A deduction is allowable for the cost of self education if there is a direct connection between the self education and the current income-earning activities. Self education costs can include fees, travel, books and equipment
  • The cost of work-related mobile or home telephone calls and rental (you should keep a diary record of the number of phone calls you make for work for one month and then we can use that to estimate your usage for the whole year)  
  • Watches - A deduction is allowable for depreciation and maintenance of a nurses' fob watch to the extent of the work-related use of the watch. A deduction is not allowable for the cost and maintenance of a conventional wrist watch
  • The cost of work-related Internet connection fees (you can only claim the proportion of your monthly fees that relate to work use, which could include emailing, research relating to your job and research for your training courses).
NOT ALLOWABLE DEDUCTION - Vaccinations: A deduction is not allowable for the cost of vaccinations as a precaution for nursing employees against contracting infectious diseases.

General Expenses

There are some tax deductions that all employees can claim on their personal tax returns:
  • The amount of any donations to registered charities (as long as you haven’t received anything in return for your donation, such as raffle tickets or novelty items) 
  • The cost of bank fees charged on any investment accounts 
  • The cost of income protection or sickness and accident insurance premiums (this type of insurance covers you if you hurt yourself (including when you are not at work) or become sick and you are unable to work. It will pay you your normal wage until you are fit to return to work – if you don’t have this insurance you should see a financial adviser or ask us and we will refer you to someone who can organise it for you. It is definitely worthwhile) 
  • Your tax agent fees (the amount you pay to your accountant to prepare your tax return each year) 
  • The cost of travelling to see your tax agent (you can claim the cost of travelling to see your accountant to have your tax return prepared. You should keep a record of the number of kilometres you travel and any other incidental costs such as parking, meals, accommodation etc)
We suggest that you keep receipts for all purchases that are work related, even if they are not listed above. That way, when we prepare your tax return, we can decide whether you are allowed to claim a tax deduction for them or not.

For further details on what nurses can claim as a tax deduction see this ATO summary.

See this FREE fact sheet/checklst of allowable tax deductions for nurses - Claiming Tax Deductions for Nurses.

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