Work Related Self Education

Self-education expenses which are

  • associated with a course
  • to gain a formally recognised qualification
  • from a place of education including a school, college or university
  • that are related to your work as an employee

..may be a tax deduction if the following circumstances are true:

  • the course maintained or improved a skill or specific knowledge required for your work at the time; and 
  • you can show that the course was likely to lead to increased income from those work activities; or
  • other circumstances provided a sufficient direct connection between the course and those work activities

Deductible self-education expenses must be work-related at the time incurred.

In claiming the connection with work, the timing of expenses can be significant. In a recent AAT case, an employee was denied deductions for the costs of an MBA course which became payable after he was made redundant. See Thomas and Commissioner of Taxation (Taxation) [2015] AATA 687 (9 September 2015)

  • Deductions which might otherwise be claimable against government assistance payments such as Austudy, ABSTUDY or Youth Allowance have not been allowed since 1 July 2011
  • Expenses which enable new or unrelated employment are not allowable
  • Payments to the various government student loans assistance schemes are not allowable

Self-education expenses are claimable at Item D4 of the individual income tax return.

Proposal for self-education expense claims to be capped is abandoned

On 6 November 2013 the Treasurer announced that previously announced proposals to cap self-education expense claims will not proceed.

The original proposal was that from 1 July 2015 work related self-education expenses be limited to an annual cap of $2,000 per person, exclusion from FBT to continue except where provided as part of a salary packaging arrangement.

What’s included in a self-education claim

Expenses commonly qualifying for the self-education deduction include:

  • tuition fees
  • the cost of accommodation and meals during temporary overnight absences from home for the purpose of participating in self-education
  • text books and professional or technical journals
  • stationery
  • student union fees
  • computer expenses
  • student services and amenities fees
  • depreciation (decline in value) of a computer or other capital equipment (with apportionment for non-self-education use where applicable)
  • travelling expenses for the trips between
    • home and the place of education
    • workplace and place of education
  • interest on borrowings which are used to pay for deductible self-education expenses
  • home study expenses – which includes the running expenses of a room set aside for self-education purposes. With appropriate substantiation, expenses associated with the study room may include:
    • repairs & maintenance
    • depreciation (decline in value) of furniture and equipment
    • heating, cooling, lighting
    • as an alternative to record keeping for the actual expenses, a fixed rate (currently 52 cents per hour of usage) may be claimed to cover heating, cooling, lighting and the depreciation and maintenance of furniture

How to calculate self-education expenses deduction

Self education expenses are essentially a claim for a work-related expense under Section 8.1 (General Deductions), together with specifically allowable expense claims such as repairs and depreciation. However Section 82A operates to reduce the deductions under s8.1 by $250 (referred to as the sec. 82A reduction amount.)

Therefore any expenses which are eligible under Section 82A but not also deductible under 8.1 are used to absorb the $250, in order to maximise the remaining expense claims which are fully deductible under 8.1

  • For example child care expenses are not deductible under 8.1, but can be used to absorb the $250 threshold as eligible Section 82A expenses. Any child care expenses above $250 are not deductible.

Because of this, the calculations for self-education expenses claim require the listing and precise categorisation of expenses according to their type, Sec 82A and otherwise.

[Update 11 May 2021 Budget 2021] It was announced that the first $250 claim exclusion (the sec. 82A reduction amount) will be removed. Timing: With effect from the first income year after the date of Royal Assent of the enabling legislation. (Budget paper No.2 page 26)
See: Treasury Laws Amendment (2021 Measures No. 7) Bill 2021

Online self education expenses calculator

For the self-education expenses online calculator provided by the Tax Office – see Tax Office online self-education expenses calculator.

More information:

This page was last modified 2021-08-25