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

TR 2024/3 Income tax: deductibility of self-education expenses incurred by an individual

The Tax Office has released guidance for the claiming of self education expenses in the form of Tax Ruling TR 2024/3 which lists out 38 categorised examples of claimable and non-claimable expenses.

A summary of examples provided in the ruling is set out below:

ExampleBrief DescriptionDeduction?
Example 1Self-education expenses for maintaining/increasing knowledge required in current positionDeductible
Example 2Personal development course expenses not reimbursed by employerDeductible
Example 3Driving course fee for skills directly related to employmentDeductible
Example 4Expenses for stress management courseNon-deductible
Example 5Overseas trip expenses for general knowledge improvementNon-deductible
Example 6Apprenticeship expenses considered self-educationDeductible
Example 7Self-education leading to guaranteed promotionDeductible
Example 8Self-education leading to higher income but in a different positionNon-deductible
Example 9Self-education at a point too soonNon-deductible
Example 10Self-education to get new employmentNon-deductible
Example 11Self-education for new employmentNon-deductible
Example 12Course not opening new income-earning activity within current employmentDeductible
Example 13Self-education to get new income-earning activityNon-deductible
Example 14Self-education to get new income-earning activityNon-deductible
Example 15Self-education to get new income-earning activity / later incurred with connection to income-earning activitiesNon-deductible / Deductible
Example 16Fees for education after being made redundantNon-deductible
Example 17Self-education expenses for ABSTUDY recipientNon-deductible
Example 18Incidental private purpose expensesThe main expenses can still be deductible
Example 19Course during holiday, private purpose not incidentalApportioned Deduction
Example 20Course and holiday, dual purpose expensesApportioned Deduction
Example 21Cost of individual subjects directly related to employmentDeductible
Example 22Cost of personal development coursePartial deduction
Example 23Course fees for employment-related education, FEE-HELP receivedDeductible
Example 24Course fees for employment-related education, FEE-HELP received, Commonwealth supported student in a CSPNon-deductible
Example 25Cancelled enrolment fees for work-related courseDeductible
Example 26Interest on loan for deductible self-education expensesDeductible
Example 27Interest on loan not related to self-education expenses to get new employmentNon-deductible
Example 28Cost of study supplies for deductible self-education expensesDeductible
Example 29Digital subscription partially used for employmentPartly Deductible
Example 30Cost of airfares for work-related educationDeductible
Example 31Accommodation and meal expenses for educational activitiesDeductible
Example 32Meals and incidental expenses, work-related conference, no overnight stayNon-deductible
Example 33Accommodation and meal expenses for employment-related education, temporarily away from home expensesDeductible
Example 34Accommodation and meal expenses for employment-related education, living away from home Non-deductible
Example 35Accommodation expenses for employment-related study tour overseasDeductible
Example 36Accommodation and meal expenses while living in the U.S. for a 12 months university courseNon-deductible
Example 37Expenses for 3 week course in London, extended to 6 monthsPartly deductible
Example 38Public transport fares for travel from home to place of self-education related to employmentDeductible
Source: TR 2024/3 Income tax: deductibility of self-education expenses incurred by an individual

Note this summary is a general guide only. The Ruling should be consulted for an explanation of the principles on which the examples are based.

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 an 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.

Self-education expenses are claimable at Item D4 of the individual income tax return.
Individual Tax Return Item D4 – Work-related self-education expenses

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.

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:

ATO Deduction Guidance: Draft Taxation Ruling TR 2023/D1 Income tax: deductibility of self-education expenses incurred by an individual

Self-education expenses deduction example calculation

(as applies from 1 July 2022)

Note that the $250 expenses exclusion has been removed with effect from 1 July 2022.

The position until 30 June 2022 was that 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

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.

The May 2021 Budget first included an announcement that the $250 claim exclusion (the sec. 82A reduction amount) would be removed. (Budget paper No.2 page 26).

The bill was not approved before parliament was dissolved on calling of the May 2022 general election, but was revived in a fresh bill brought before parliament on 3 August 2022 and received assent on 12 December 2022.

The amendment has application for 2022-23 income tax year, and from 1 April 2023 for FBT purposes.
See Treasury Laws Amendment (2022 Measures No. 2) Bill 2022 (Schedule 3)

Further info: see Tax Office

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 2024-02-21