As a project manager, just like any other company employee or independent contractor, you may be entitled to claim a range of expenses from training and education to tools and equipment in your tax return. 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 consider what you can and can’t claim this tax time. In this article we’ve worked with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to break down what deductions you may be able to claim this tax season.

Tax return 2023 checklist for project managers, including information from the ATO

1. Education

You can claim a deduction for self-education and study expenses if it directly relates to your current employment as a project manager, and it:

  • maintains or improves the skills and knowledge you need for your current duties – for example, a manager completing human resources training for managing staff
  • results in or is likely to result in an increase in your income from your current employment.

From 1 July 2022, the requirement to exclude the first $250 of certain self-education expenses has been removed.

2. Union and professional association fees

You can claim a deduction for union and professional association fees you pay, such as your AIPM membership. You can use your income statement as evidence of the amount you pay if it’s shown on there.

3. Clothing and laundry

You can’t claim a deduction for conventional clothing you buy for work. Conventional clothing is everyday clothing worn by people regardless of their occupation, including business attire, or jeans and drill shirts. You can claim a deduction for the ‘cost of buying and cleaning occupation-specific clothing, protective clothing and unique, distinctive uniforms’.

4. Car expenses

Generally, you can’t claim for normal trips between home and work, even if you live a long distance from your usual workplace or work outside normal business hours. You can claim car expenses if you use your car for work duties, for example driving between work sites.

5. Tools and equipment

If you buy tools, equipment, or other assets to use in earning your income, you can claim a deduction for some or all of the cost. If they cost $300 or less, you may be able to claim an immediate deduction. If they cost more than $300, you can claim a deduction for the decline in value over time. This includes computers, software and other digital assets or tools.

You will also need to apportion your deduction if you use the items for both work and private purposes.

Take a look at the Australian Taxation Office’s (ATO) guidance and/or speak to your registered tax agent.

6. Overnight travel expenses

You can claim overnight travel expenses where you travel and stay away from home overnight in the course of performing your work duties. Overnight travel expenses may include accommodation, meals and incidental expenses.

7. Working from home

If you’re eligible, there are two ways to calculate your WFH deduction this tax time – the revised fixed rate method, or the actual cost method. From 1 July 2022, the revised fixed rate method has increased from 52 cents to 67 cents per hour worked from home, and no longer requires you to have a dedicated home office space. The expenses covered in the rate, and the records you’ll need to keep, have changed too.

Small businesses

You can claim a tax deduction for most expenses from carrying on your business, as long as they are directly related to earning your assessable income. Just remember the three golden rules for what the ATO accepts as a valid business deduction:

  1. The expense must have been for your business, not for private use.
  2. If the expense is for a mix of business and private use, you can only claim the portion that is used for your business.
  3. You must have records to prove it.

The type of expense determines when you can claim your deduction. Generally, you can claim:

  • operating expenses (such as office stationery and wages) in the year you incur them
  • capital expenses (such as machinery and equipment) over a longer period. However, under the current temporary full expensing rules, you may be eligible to claim an immediate deduction for the business use portion of depreciating assets you acquire for your business.

AIPM membership is tax deductible for project professionals. Renew or join now and you can claim your membership as a tax deduction.