Science and Engineering is a highly technical field, which is why we’ve simplified your tax return for you! Read our science and engineer tax deductions guide below to learn what you could claim.
Science and Engineering encompasses a wide range of occupations, including the following:
- Engineer (civil, aeronautical, geotechnical, IT, sound etc.)
- Laboratory technician
If you work in any of those professions, our simple tax deductions guide is for you. Read on to maximise your next tax return…
What are the common tax deductions for engineers and science workers?
While it seems obvious, it’s surprising to see just how many science and engineering workers miss out on this valuable tax deduction. If you sometimes work from home or out and about, you can claim a work-related portion of your internet bill on your next tax return.
Simply keep a log of your internet use for a typical month to work out how much is work related. Then you can claim that percentage of your Internet bill on your tax return.
Luke is a civil engineer who works from home on Thursdays and occasionally on the weekends. He lives with his wife and their monthly internet bill is $109.
Luke splits his internet bill 50/50 with his wife meaning his share is $54.50 per month. After keeping track of his internet use for a month, he calculated that he uses it 55% of the time for work.
- 55% of $54.50 = $29.98 per month
- $29.98 multiplied by 12 months = $359.76
Therefore, Luke is able to claim back $359.76 on his tax return this year for internet use.
Mobile phone use
Another common tax deduction for engineers and science workers is mobile phone use.
Whether you’re making or receiving calls, or using your phone for security purposes at work, you can claim a portion of your mobile phone bill back on your tax return.
Take an average month and review your phone bill to work out what percentage of your phone use is work related. Then, you can claim that percentage of your phone bill on your tax return.
Louise is a pathology collector who uses her personal mobile phone for work to contact other labs while she’s out of office.
She reviewed her mobile phone bill and calculated that 60% of her time (29 out of 48 calls in the month) on her phone are work related.
- Her mobile phone bill is $69 a month.
- 60% of $69 = $41.40 per month
- Multiply that by 12 months = $496.80
Therefore, Louise is able to claim a total of $496.80 on her tax return for the year.
Work From Home Expenses
If you are required to fulfil some of your employment duties from home and keep a record of the additional expenses that have resulted, you may be able to claim work from home expenses.
From 2023, there are two ways to claim home office expenses:
- Actual cost method: The amount of actual running expenses incurred by recording an established pattern of use.
- Or Revised Fixed Rate Method: Calculated at a rate of 67 cents per hour.
It is important to note, though, that if you want to claim your internet and phone usage separately, you will not be eligible to claim your home offices at the revised fixed rate method, but will need to claim using the actual cost method.
If you aren’t sure which one is right for you, don’t worry. If you use Etax, you don’t need to work it out yourself. Simply enter your home office expense information and our tax return will automatically calculate which method is best for you.
Work Related Car Tax Deductions for Engineers and Science Workers
Both engineers and science workers often find themselves on the road as part of their job. And, if they use their own car, then car use is a handy refund boosting tax deduction.
Unless you carry heavy or bulky tools, travel from home to work is not claimable. On the other hand, if you travel between work locations, to meetings, events or conferences, the cost of that travel is tax deductible.
There are two options to claim a tax deduction for your car use:
- If your travel is sporadic, the cents per kilometre method allows you to claim up to 5,000km per year. The rate per kilometre changes per tax year, check the correct year rate here.
- If you travel regularly, we recommend the logbook method which allows you to claim a work-related percentage of all of your car expenses for the year.
Hannah is a dietitian who travels between different clinics for various appointments through the week. As Hannah travels regularly, she kept a logbook for 12 continuous weeks during the year for all work and personal trips. She calculates that 74% of her car use is work related.
Therefore, Hannah can claim 74% of her car costs for the year. This include fuel, registration, insurance, maintenance and even interest on her lease repayments.
Clothing and Laundry Expenses
If a piece of clothing you have purchased has a business logo or branding, it can be claimed back on tax. This does not apply to general items that are available to the public. Unfortunately this means general corporate/business clothes are not tax deductible.
You can also claim the costs for laundering any tax deductible uniform or protective item. Read more about laundry expenses here.
Protective Clothing and Equipment
Goggles, protective boots, sun protection (sunglasses, hats, sunscreen), smocks, hi-vis vests and outdoor winter jackets (where required).
Computer / Laptop
If you use your personal computer or laptop for work related purposes, you can claim the purchase cost on your tax return.This includes software, hardware such as keyboards, printers as well as the device itself.
However, you can claim the full cost of an item up to $300. Items over that amount can only be claimed as a depreciating cost. For more information about claiming your computer or laptop as a deduction, read our guide.
Conferences, Seminars or Training: An Often Missed Tax Deduction for Engineers and Science Workers
If you are completing further training, or attending work related events or conferences, these are tax deductible. Furthermore, required items to complete training like textbooks, software and stationery can be included as well.
There is also the cost of meals and accommodation if you are staying away from home. These are all tax deductible.
In addition, transport such as Uber, taxi, bus, train or hire car, along with parking and tolls can also be included.
Most importantly, make sure you keep track of your receipts as you go so you don’t leave any money on the table at tax time.
Stationery and Work Bags
If you purchase stationery, diaries, planners, pens or notebooks for work, they are tax deductible.
You can also claim back the cost of your work or laptop bag if it is used to transport work items. Keep in mind if the bag is used for personal use you should apportion the purchase cost accordingly.
Books and Magazines
If you subscribe to industry-based magazines or publications for research and reference purposes, these expenses are tax deductible. Just make sure you document how these are used for work purposes and keep your receipt.
Annual Union and Membership fees
In fields like engineering, science and dietetics, there are often requirements that you join certain regulatory bodies and unions. These membership fees can be claimed back on tax as they directly benefit your current role.
Final tax deduction for engineers and science workers: Tax agent expenses!
It might seem obvious but it’s another easy one to forget!
Whatever you spent on your tax agent last year is tax deductible on your next tax return, so don’t forget to keep a record of your tax agent fees!