Tax Return Checklist for Tradies | NECA

News & Views

18th January 2022

Tax Return Checklist for Tradies

As a Tradie you may be entitled to claim a range of expenses from clothing and laundry to tools and equipment. That is, if the expense is directly work related and you haven’t been reimbursed.

During these times when many of us are tightening our belts, it’s worth taking a moment to make sure you are getting all you are entitled to.

Here's a quick checklist, including the latest rules from the ATO:

Union and professional association fees: You can claim a deduction for union and professional association fees you pay. You can use your income statement as evidence of the amount you pay if it's shown on there.


Clothing and laundry: Other deductions will generally depend more on the specific industry you work in. You can claim a deduction for:

  • the cost of buying, mending and cleaning uniforms that are unique and distinctive to your job (e.g. a uniform your employer requires you to wear
  • protective clothing your employer requires you to wear (e.g. hi-vis vests, steel-capped boots and safety glasses)


Car and travel expenses: You can claim a deduction for the cost of travel while performing your duties. This includes travel between different work locations, including different employers. Normal trips between home and work are private in nature and can’t be claimed. This applies even if you:

  • live a long way from your usual workplace, or
  • have to work outside normal business hours (e.g. weekend shifts)

In limited circumstances you can claim the cost of trips between home and work, where:

  • you had shifting places of employment (that is, you regularly worked at more than one site each day before returning home)
  • you were required to carry bulky tools or equipment for work and all of the following conditions were met
    • The tools or equipment were essential for you to perform your employment duties and you didn’t carry them merely as a matter of choice
    • The tools or equipment were bulky – meaning that because of their size and weight they were awkward to transport and could only be transported conveniently by the use of a motor vehicle
    • There was no secure storage for the items at the workplace


If you claim car expenses, you must:

  • Keep a logbook of your work trips, or
  • Be able to show the ATO your claim is reasonable if you use the cents per kilometre method (for claims up to 5,000km only)


Your vehicle is not considered to be a car if it a vehicle with a carrying capacity of:

  • One tonne or more, such as ute or panel van
  • Nice passengers or more, such as a minivan


In these circumstances (e.g. if you use a ute) you can claim the proportion of your vehicle expenses that relate to work – such as fuel, oil, insurance, repairs and servicing, car loan interest, registration and depreciation.

Keep receipts for your actual expenses. You cannot use the cents per kilometre method for these vehicles. While it is not a requirement to keep a logbook, it is the easiest way to show how you have calculated your work-related use of the vehicle.


Tools and equipment: You can claim a deduction for tools or equipment you are required to buy for your job. If you also use the tools or equipment for private purposes, you can’t claim a deduction for that use. For example, if you have a tool set that you use for private purposes half the time you can only deduct 50% of the cost. If the tools or equipment are supplied by your employer or another person, you can’t claim a deduction.

If a tool or item of work equipment you only used for work:

  • Cost more than $300 – you can claim a deduction for the cost over a number of years
  • Cost $300 or less – you can claim an immediate deduction for the whole cost
    It’s important to take a step back and look at your current position. Jobs, workspaces and government support programs are all changing and will continue to do so for at least this tax year and the next. Seek tax advice as your circumstances change.

If you need more information check out the tradies page on the ATO website