Top 10 deductions for public servants

Each occupation has different items that can and cannot be claimed on a tax return.  To help you navigate this terrain, we will be publishing a series of articles on items you can claim as a deduction based on the field you work in.

Below is our list of deductions applicable to public servants.

Top 10 deductions for public servants
Photo by Amy Hirschi on Unsplash

Claiming a deduction

There are several conditions you should bear in mind regarding your eligibility in claiming a deduction for work-related expenses:

  • The expenses must have been spent by yourself and not reimbursed by your employer;

  • The expenses must be directly related to your income-earning activities; and

  • You must keep a record of the expenses for evidence.

Note: only the work-related part of these expenses can be claimed. You cannot claim expenses related to personal use.

Car expenses

You can claim a deduction for your car expenses when you:

  • Commute between separate jobs on the same day (for example, from your job as a public servant to your second job as a personal trainer); or

  • Commute to a different workplace for the same employer (for example, from your usual office to another to attend a meeting for the same employer).


You generally cannot claim a deduction for your commute from home to your workplace. One possible exception to this is if you were transporting bulky tools or equipment and the following conditions were met:

  • The transported tools or equipment were essential for you to carry out your job and not transported as a matter of choice;

  • The tools or equipment were of a shape or size such that it would be inconvenient to transport without a motor vehicle; and

  • Your workplace did not have a secure storage space for the tools or equipment.

If you lodge a claim for car expenses, you must keep a logbook to determine and prove the percentage of work-related car expenses. Alternatively, you could use the cents to kilometre method to calculate the percentage.

Home office expenses

You can claim a percentage of the expenses incurred to run your home office if you are required to work from home. This includes the depreciation of your office equipment and the work-related portion of your phone bills, electricity costs and internet costs.

You generally cannot claim a deduction for the costs of rent, mortgage interest or insurance.

Clothing expenses

You can claim a deduction for expenses incurred in purchasing, hiring or cleaning uniforms that are unique and distinctive to your job. This includes clothing with your company’s logo or protective clothing that you are required to wear per your employer’s instructions.

You cannot claim a deduction for the costs of purchasing or cleaning work clothes that are plain and not distinctive to your work even if your employer requires you to wear it. This includes plain black or white attire for wait staff or a business suit.

Self-education expenses

You can claim a deduction for self-education expenses only if the course is directly related to your current job.

You cannot claim a deduction if the course is meant for general upskilling or is designed to help you find a new job.

Other deductible work-related expenses

You can claim a deduction for the work-related portion of the following expenses as long as it relates to your current job:

  • Seminars and conferences;

  • Subscription to technical or professional publications; and

  • Union and professional association fees.

Need help?

This is a brief guide to several tax deductions you may be entitled to.

If you have anything you would like to clarify with us, please do not hesitate to contact us at 02 7208 5065 or fill in the contact form on our website.

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