Whether you’re an apprentice or trainee carpenter, electrician, mechanic, plumber, bricklayer or painter (just to name a few), we have all the apprentice tax deductions covered for you in this guide!
Starting out in a trade or traineeship involves long hours spent learning the ropes in your chosen field. It’s a common misconception that apprentices or trainees can’t claim much on their tax return. But, did you know that even though you’re just starting out as a trainee or apprentice, there are a large number of deductions available that can help deliver a pretty big tax refund for you?
To help you get the most of out of your next refund, we have created a list of common tax deductions for apprentices and trainees. For the best possible refund, read this guide before you complete your next tax return!
What are the most common Tax Deductions for Apprentices and Trainees?
Clothing and Protective Items
Firstly, do you need to wear branded clothing to work? Or maybe you need hi-vis items and steel-capped boots?
Chances are the answer to one (or both) of those questions is yes. And, that’s good news at tax time!
Branded shirts (with a company logo), pants, hats and protective items like boots, safety glasses and hi-vis clothing are all common trainee and apprentice tax deductions.
Clothing that is NOT branded is not tax deductible. For example, you can’t claim a plain black pair of cargo pants to work, even if they’re compulsory. However, you can claim a pair of steel capped boots or a safety vest, if it is considered protective in nature.
Dean works as an apprentice mechanic and purchased a company high-vis shirt with the business logo and branding on it, along with a pair of steel capped boots. Dean spent a total of $475 on these items.
At tax time Dean claims back the full $475 as a tax deduction because the clothing is all protective in nature.
Sunscreen and Sun Protection
Working outside is often a big part of the job. Make sure you are keeping track of any sunscreen, zinc, hats or sunglasses you purchase as these items can all be claimed back.
Cleaning and Laundry
As an apprentice or trainee, chances are you’re always getting your hands (and clothes) dirty.
Make sure you keep track of how often you’re washing your work clothes as you can also claim a deduction for laundry expenses.
The Etax return makes this simple for you. Just enter the number of times you wash per week, and we’ll do the maths for you to work out how much you can claim!
Claiming Tools on Tax, Plus Other Equipment Deductions for Apprentices and Trainees
As a trade’s apprentice or trainee, you are often required to buy certain tools for work out of your own pocket. Tax time is when you can claim these expenses back!
- Items below $300 can be claimed in full as part of your tax return.
- Items over $300 need to be depreciated over a number of years. Let your tax agent know the total cost and when the item was purchased, and they will run the maths for you.
Just be aware if the tools are sometimes used for non-work-related purposes, you’ll need claim a work-related percentage rather than the full purchase price.
Mitch bought himself a battery powered drill for $550, a grinder for $250 and a sander for $219. He uses the drill solely for work purposes and the grinder and sander. He split his work and personal use 50/50.
As the drill costs more than $300, Mitch’s Etax accountant helps him claim the drill across the next 3 years. (The effective life of a battery powered drill if defined by the ATO as 3 years.)
As Mitch uses the grinder and sander 50% for work, and they cost less than $300 he can claim 50% of their purchase price in full on his taxreturn.
Mobile Phone Expenses
Here’s another common, but often overlooked tax deduction for apprentices and trainees.
Do you make and receive calls for work on your personal mobile phone? It might be to call your boss about a job you’re working on or ordering supplies for site. If yes, you can claim a work-related percentage of your phone use on your return.
To figure out your work-related percentage, go through a typical monthly phone bill and work out how many calls are work related vs personal. If 50 out of 100 calls are work-related, that’s 50%.
Therefore, you can claim 50% of your monthly phone bill on your tax return.
Josh is an apprentice electrician working on numerous worksites for various contractors. This means Josh spends a fair amount of time on the phone coordinating days and times at different sites.
Josh’s monthly phone bill is $89. He calculated that typically 60% of his phone use is work related with a review of his monthly bill. That means he can claim 60% of $89, which is $53.40 per month as a work-related tax deduction.
Therefore, $53.40 x 12 months is a total of $640.80 that Josh can claim back for his phone expenses on his next tax return.
Car and Vehicle Tax Deductions for Apprentices and Trainees
A general rule regarding car expenses is that you can’t claim home to work travel. But, there is an exception if you carry heavy or bulky tools (weighing 20kgs or above) AND there’s no safe place at work for you to store them.
So, if you’re an apprentice or trainee who fits the above description, all of your work-related car use (even home to work, and back again) is usually tax deductible.
For those apprentices who don’t carry heavy tools, home to work (and vice versa) travel is generally not claimable. But, any other travel you do during the day from one site to another, to pick up supplies or meet with customers is tax deductible.
There are two methods on offer for claiming car expenses:
- Logbook Method: For most trade apprentices who drive a lot for work, this method puts the most money in your pocket at tax time. You need to keep a logbook for 12 continuous weeks of both your work and personal trips. Then you can claim a work-related percentage of ALL your car expenses for the year on your return. This includes fuel, insurance, registration and even interest on a car loan if applicable.
- For those trainees or apprentices who only drive occasionally you can claim per kilometre up to 5,000km per year. The rate per kilometre changes per tax year, check the correct year rate here.
Luke is an apprentice plumber who carries heavy tools in his ute to and from work. He works on multiple job sites often travelling from one to another during the day.
As Luke uses his car regularly for work related purposes he kept a logbook for 12 continuous weeks. As a result, he calculates that his work-related use is 80% of his total car use.
Therefore, Luke can claim 80% of his fuel, registration, insurance, car loan interest and maintenance costs as a tax deduction on his return.
Self Education Expenses
As an apprentice or trainee, you are more than likely taking part in some form of education. Any associated expenses can usually be claimed back on your tax return. This could be a certificate, diploma, or specialist upskilling.
Any textbooks, training manuals, stationery and internet usage related to the self education can also be claimed if they directly relate to your job.
If you’re unsure about any of the above tax deductions for apprentices and trainees, feel free to email us on [email protected] or send us a message through our Live Chat when you’re logged into your Etax account. Our accountants are there for support throughout the whole tax return process. So, if you need any help throughout, contact your Etax accountant and they will be able to assist.