Teachers, tax time is coming. Do you have your teacher tax deductions sorted yet? We know teachers are busy (understatement of the year!), so you might be too busy to even think about your tax lodgement. That’s why the Teach Starter teacher team sat down to put together this guide to teacher tax deductions! Find out what you need to know about work-related expenses that are tax-deductible for Australian teachers and tax returns too!
Disclaimer: This material has been prepared for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide — nor should it be relied on for — tax, legal or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal or accounting advisers before claiming any tax deductions.
Are Your Work-Related Expenses Tax Deductible?
Before we start digging into teacher tax deductions, you’ll need to ensure your work-related deductions qualify as such.
Always check if your expense fits these 3 criteria:
- You spent the money yourself, and you weren’t reimbursed for it.
- The expense directly relates to earning your income (if the expense was for both work and private purposes, you only claim a deduction for the work-related part).
- You have receipts to prove it. There is one exception here — the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) doesn’t require a receipt for small expenses of $10 or less, up to $200, although you will need a record of the purchase, such as a note in your diary.
What Can Teachers Claim on Tax in 2023?
You may be surprised by some of the deductions you’re missing when it comes to taxes — or maybe you just aren’t sure what is what? Here are some common deductions that you might qualify for.
1. Working From Home Expenses
Have you spent time teaching from home? There are several methods you can use to work out any home office expenses to see if you qualify. The methods you can use depend on your circumstances, but you must meet the record-keeping requirements and working criteria to use each method. You can only take this deduction if you had to work from home to fulfill your duties, so checking emails on the weekend won’t count, and even taking calls from parents from your couch will not qualify.
Due to COVID-19, the ATO had introduced a temporary shortcut method that simplified how you calculated a deduction for working-from-home expenses, but it was only available from 1 March 2020 to 30 June 2022. If you used it last year, you may want to check with the ATO’s latest guidelines before you file to ensure you’re following the latest rules!
2. Cost of Managing Tax Affairs
You may be able to claim a deduction for expenses you incur in managing your own tax affairs, such as the cost to lodge through a registered agent. You generally incur the fees in the year you pay them, so remember to keep your receipt for the following financial year.
3. Personal Protective Equipment During COVID-19
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be able to claim a deduction for the cost of buying a face mask and other PPE to wear at work if:
- your employment duties require you and other employees to be at your place of work
- the equipment is not provided to you by your employer, and
- you need to wear a mask (this is likely to be the case where your duties bring you in close contact with other people, including clients, customers or work colleagues)
Make sure you keep receipts for things like sanitiser and masks!
4. Professional Education
Keeping up with the latest in educational trends is an important part of serving your students, and the ATO recognises this. You may be able to claim the cost of teacher professional development activities such as attending seminars, conferences or training courses to maintain or increase the knowledge, capabilities or skills you need to earn your income in your current employment.
You may also claim your Teacher Registration fee renewal, as well as any First Aid course you might take.
5. Books, Periodicals and Digital Information
You may be able to claim a deduction for books, periodicals and digital information you use as part of earning your employment income if you incur the expense.
- Books and periodicals may include library subscriptions, academic journals, technical journals and reference books.
- Digital information services may include online subscriptions, electronic material, such as e-books or e-journals and other digital materials you buy. That includes your subscription to Teach Starter!
6. Costs for Excursions
If you have to pay a portion of an excursion and your school doesn’t reimburse you, that likely qualifies as a work-related expense.
Although you can’t claim what the ATO calls conventional clothing — the clothes you could wear anywhere, including school — on your taxes, they do allow a tax deduction if you are required to purchase a uniform to teach in your school and don’t receive a reimbursement.
8. Travel Expenses
Have you ever had to travel between schools at the request of your admin? Perhaps you were sent to another building to monitor exams? That’s the sort of travel that typically qualifies as a work-related expense!
It’s important to note, however, that you cannot use regular travel to and from work as a deduction. This is true even if you’re a casual relief teacher who only drives to a school on occasion.
9. Classroom Supplies
We know teachers spend out-of-pocket on everything from storybooks to prizes for student rewards. Many of these can be claimed on your tax, but there are some rules to keep in mind. Just as it is with any of the other listed expenses, these items cannot be things your school has reimbursed you for, and they must be used for your work. If you take home some supplies at the end of term and end up using them for art and craft with your own child, for example, the amount claimed will need to be apportioned between work and personal use.
What Doesn’t Qualify for a Teacher Tax Deduction
We have provided you with a long list of items that might qualify for your tax deductions this year! Did we leave out something you planned to deduct? It may be because the ATO says no to some expenses. The following items do not qualify for teacher tax deductions:
Purchasing gifts for student birthdays or events like Christmas is very popular — and very kind! — but we’re afraid to say they’re not considered work expenses.
Teach Starter Teacher Tip: Year 2 teacher Miss L prints Teach Starter’s superhero-themed happy birthday badges to use as pencil toppers for simple birthday gifts that are useful in the classroom. Print your birthday badges here!
Supplementing Student Needs
This is another thing we see extremely kind teachers doing — purchasing items to supplement the needs of students who go without such as clothing or small toiletries. Unfortunately, these kindnesses do not qualify for a tax deduction.