Tax time: ATO outlines what specialists can and can’t claim


Specialists have been warned against ‘tacking on’ work-related business for tax purposes while travelling on holidays, with the ATO saying it will reject claims for travel expenses not primarily related to work.

The message is part of a list of dos and don’ts specifically prepared by tax officials for doctors in the 2021-22 financial year.

According to the document, medical professionals can claim reasonable travel expenses for travelling away from home overnight in the course of their work. This can include meals, accommodation and ‘incidental expenses’ incurred when travelling for work.

Doctors can also claim the costs for travel to and from an alternative workplace, i.e. between consulting rooms and a hospital, it says.

However, it goes on to say: “You can’t claim travel expenses if you are taking private travel and add on a work-related component – for example, while on holiday, you notice a work-related seminar and decide to attend.”

“In this scenario, you may claim the seminar fees, but not your travel expenses such as flights or accommodation.”

Taxpayers also cannot claim a deduction if the travel is paid for, or reimbursed by, an employer, the ATO advice says.

Any PPE such as gloves and face masks is tax-deductable, as well as sanitiser and anti-bacterial spray, while professional indemnity insurance, college or AMA membership and medical journal subscriptions can also be claimed.

Technical reference books and textbooks can be claimed if they cost $300 or less, however anything costing above that amount is considered an asset and can only be claimed based on its declining value over time.

Other expenses which can be claimed on tax include:

  • Purchase and laundry of compulsory work uniforms
  • Meals purchased and eaten during overtime
  • Nurses fob watches, but not regular wristwatches or smartwatches
  • Phone bills for work purposes
  • Seminars, conferences and training courses
  • Tools and equipment, directly for those costing $300 or less, and depreciation for those above $300.

A full guide to the available deductions for medical professionals can be found here.

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