Education is a lifelong pursuit, to the point where many professional bodies (including accounting organisations) actually require members to participate in ongoing study, seminars, conferences or other forms of professional development. If you are currently undertaking study, it is important to know whether or not you can claim any of your costs as work-related self-education expenses on your tax return, so let’s look at some things you can claim – and some that you can’t.
What you can claim
In order for your study expenses to be considered work-related self-education expenses, your studies must have sufficient connection to your current employment. This connection could take the form of:
- Upgrading the qualifications you already have for your current employment to a higher level, such as a masters or other postgraduate degree
- Improving skills relevant to your current employment or that would improve your performance at work, such as training on additional machinery
- Undertaking training as part of a traineeship that you are employed under
- Training or other study that you can prove either has or is likely to lead to an increase in salary
- Studies required to maintain professional qualifications
What you can’t claim
As you can see from the list above, the study you hope to claim as an expense must relate to your current employment or to improving your skills and performance for your current employment such that you are likely to earn an increased income. Therefore, any studies not relating to your current employment would not be allowable deductible expenses. For example, if you are currently working in a pet shop, studying to become a veterinarian wouldn’t be allowable as it is an unnecessarily high level of study that wouldn’t make you more employable in a pet shop. However, undertaking a course in animal grooming and handling would be deductible as it relates closely to your current position and the skills acquired could be used directly in your current position. Similarly, if you work in a pet shop but hope to be an accountant in the future, studying accounting would not be deductible.
From 2012 onwards, Austudy, ABSTUDY and Youth Allowance recipients cannot claim a deduction for expenses incurred that relate only to the receipt of any of those allowances.
Hopefully this makes things a little clearer regarding how you can reduce the financial burden of ongoing study, but if you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to contact your accountant for details.
By Jennifer Lowe