Uni students can sometimes claim great tax deductions during their degrees and qualifications if they meet certain criteria. In this post we’ll discuss tax deductions for uni students – and outline some expenses you are not allowed to claim.
It’s worth noting straight away that in order to claim any kind of tax deduction, you must have earned an income and paid tax to the ATO. In general, only taxpayers employed full time who also study subjects directly related to their current work will be eligible to claim uni student tax deductions.
Eligibility criteria to claim self-education expenses
Studying to improve your current career where you’re already working? Self-education expenses can be great tax deductions for uni students.
The ATO won’t allow tax deductions if the subject of your education is not directly linked to your current employment. To legally claim your self-education expenses as deductions on your tax return, you must meet one of these four eligibility criteria set by the ATO:
- You’re improving your academic qualifications for the job you already have during your studies
- You are improving your knowledge or skills for your current job
- You’re a trainee and your self-education course is part of the traineeship
- You can show that your course, qualification or degree can lead to an increase in income within your current employment
For example; if you work in a full time role and study a course part time that’s directly connected to your employment, you may be able to claim the expenses related to that course as uni student tax deductions.
If the course you’re undertaking as a student is pre-graduate and either to change industries or enter a new one, expenses related to studying won’t be eligible.
What can you claim? Tax deductions for uni students
If you meet one of the four criteria above, then there are a range of deductions you might be able to claim.
Common tax deductions for uni students include:
- Course/tuition fees (Not including HECS/HELP)
- Stationery and textbooks
- Student service fees
- Union fees
- Amenity fees
- Equipment depreciation and repairs (eg. laptops computer, printer, etc.)
- Car expenses (if applicable)
Work-related deductions for people working during studies also include:
- Uniforms (must have a logo)
- Travel (only for work-related reasons such as training or a conference)
What you can’t claim…
As we mentioned at the start of this post, in general only uni students who also work full time will qualify to claim uni student tax deductions on their tax returns.
On top of this, other expenses you can’t claim as a uni student tax deduction are:
- HECS-HELP Repayments
- Occupancy Expenses (e.g Rent, house insurance, rates, mortgage interest etc.)
- Financial Supplement Loan Repayments
Other important tips on tax deductions for uni students
The first $250 of the cost is usually non-deductible.
UPDATE: this is only relevant if the expense was incurred before 1 July 2022. Unless your claim includes depreciation or repairs, the ATO says that the first $250 worth of education related expenses cannot be claimed on a tax return.
This means if your expenses were incurred before 1 July 2022 and only included fees, textbooks, stationery and travel, you need to deduct $250 from your total before adding it to your tax return.
Important Note: Austudy = income for tax purposes
If you receive Austudy, it’s a good idea to look at your tax situation at the beginning of the financial year, rather than waiting for tax time. Talk to Centrelink about your Government allowances to ensure you aren’t stung with owing any tax at the end of the financial year. Preparation is the key in this situation.
Receipts and documents for student tax deductions
In order to claim a uni student tax deduction, proof of purchase is required. Usually this means simply keeping your printed or electronic receipts or invoices for any study-related items you pay for. (Try the Etax Mobile app and you can snap a photo of your receipt right into your Etax account.)
Working two jobs and travelling between?
Some uni students work two jobs to make ends meet. If this is you, keep a logbook of your car trips, then claim some of your car expenses as tax deductions for the travel between your jobs.
Individuals on a student visa can’t normally claim self-education expenses
If you’re studying on a student visa, it means you’re unlikely to be able to claim self-education expenses. International students are normally here primarily to study, so it is difficult to meet all of the ATO requirements.