Are you a waitress in a sushi restaurant? An artistically gifted barista? Or a licensed club manager at one of the city’s hottest nightspots? If you want to claim the tax deductions you’re rightfully entitled to, read our tax deductions for wait staff and bartenders guide!
We know customer service of any kind in the hospitality industry can be equally challenging and rewarding. Your days are spent ensuring a level of satisfaction and comfort for others. It’s so easy to get caught up in your day to day job serving others and as a result your taxes take a back seat. Well, we’re here to help make tax time the perfect opportunity for you to reap the (financial) benefits of your career!
Take a look below at our guide on tax deductions for bar and wait staff, waiters, waitresses, baristas, venue managers and other hospitality workers. We cover the different areas you might be eligible to claim to make sure we get you the biggest and best tax return possible this year.
What are Common Tax Deductions for Wait Staff or Bartenders?
Clothing and Related Expenses for Bar and Wait Staff
Deductible clothing may include skirts, pants, jackets, shirts or hats with a business logo or branding on them. However, if your employer specifies you must wear say plain black pants to work, they would not be claimable as the ATO defines them as general in nature. Check out our guide to work uniform expenses for more information.
Mary is a barista at her local coffee shop. She purchases and wears a branded polo shirt as well as plain black pants. Therefore, as Mary wears a branded polo shirt she can claim the cost of purchasing and laundering that shirt.
However, as her pants are plain with no logo on them, she is unable to claim them on her tax return, even though her employer specifies them as part of her uniform.
Any items that are required for your health and safety. You can claim items like aprons, hair nets, smocks or overalls you wear specifically at work.
Cleaning and laundry
Washing, drying, ironing and dry-cleaning of your work clothes only. Keep a record of how often you wash your uniform per week and whether it is a mixed or solo wash. Our online tax return will calculate your laundry claim for you automatically.
*Remember, you can only claim the laundry costs of uniform items that you purchase. Consequently, taking example 1 into account, Mary can claim the laundry costs of her polo shirt but not the cost of washing her pants.
Vehicle and Travel Expenses
This is an often overlooked tax deduction for wait staff and bartenders. Whenever you use your car for work purposes (other than driving from home to work), you might be able to claim it on your tax return. This could be travelling between venues, picking up supplies, or attending meetings or training courses at different locations. All of these expenses can be claimed. If you drive in your car a lot for work, we recommend using our guide on tax deductions for car use. This will advise you how to correctly calculate distances travelled and specify what you can claim.
Alternatively, if your travel is infrequent and the distances are short you might like to use the cents per km method where you can claim 68c per kilometer up to 5,000 per year.
Should you attend business conferences, networking events or meetings specific to your job, you can often claim the following expenses:
- Public Transport
- Taxis / Uber
- Meals (if you stay away overnight)
Tony is a bartender who each week does two shifts where the first 4 hours of his shift is at one pub, and the next 4 hours is at another pub 8 kilometers down the road. He can’t claim the costs of driving to and from work (or home again), however, he can claim the distance he travels between the two pubs.
Tony doesn’t drive much, therefore, he chooses to use the cents per km method and claims 16 kilometers per week over the 48 weeks he worked during the year.
As a result, Tony can claim a total of $522.24 (16km x $0.68 x 48 weeks) worth of car expenses on his tax return.
Training and Education Deductions for Wait Staff and Bartenders
You may have been RSA certified this year, renewed a gaming license, or undertaken a graduate certificate or diploma directly related to your current job.
The following expenses can usually be claimed:
- RSA certification
- Gaming license renewal (renewal only, cannot claim for initial license)
- Any industry specific training (eg. Latte art course, hospitality management seminar, mixology course)
- Stationery (inc. diary, notebooks, pens)
- Computer / laptop
- Required software
- Internet usage
- Student services and amenities fees
- Travel – If you are staying overnight and need to use alternative modes of transport.
- Meals and accommodation – If your training course or education venue is located elsewhere and requires you to stay overnight, you are entitled to claim accommodation and meal costs for the duration of your stay.
*Important Note: Training and education deductions for wait staff and bartenders do not apply if they are to get a new job. The training must be directly related to your current role.
Home Office Expenses
Are you a restaurant or club manager that has to work from home?
You may be able to claim the following:
- Home office equipment (phones, computers/laptops, furniture and décor)
- Heating, cooling and lighting costs (air conditioning, lamps and lights, electricity)
- Cost of repairs to furniture and furnishings
- Cleaning costs
- Stationery (pens, staplers, printer paper, ink etc.)
*We recommend keeping a diary of how many hours you work in your office per week. This allows you to claim a nominal rate of 52c per hour on your tax return. Check out our home office expenses blog for more information on how to claim.
Rebecca manages a local restaurant and works from her home office preparing orders and rosters.
She spends an average of 8 hours per week working from home for 48 weeks of the year. Using the 52c per hour method, Rebecca is able to claim (8hrs x $0.52 x 48) = $199.68 for running costs of her home office for the year.
Important Bar and Wait Staff Tax Deductions Not to Forget:
- Work related magazines or journals (hospitality specific publications used for reference or research at work).
- Phone expenses – time spent on work related calls and phone expenses (excluding connection fees)
- Tax agent fees for your previous year’s return
- Union and professional association fees
- Work equipment – For items over $300, a depreciating value will be applied. You cannot claim on any items you use personally.
If you’re unsure about any of your claims or eligibility, please don’t hesitate to contact us at [email protected]. Alternatively, message us through our Facebook page with any concerns or queries. We’re here to help you get the BEST tax return possible!