Posted on May 30, 2023
If you’ve earnt income as a lawyer during the financial year, you are eligible to claim specific work-related expenses when lodging your tax return. You are probably aware of some deductions you are entitled to as a lawyer, but are you aware of everything you can claim? For example, did you know that annual Supreme Court library fees are claimable?
We have listed some other things you may not know you can - or can’t - claim for your tax return.
Please note, this article is general advice only based on the ATO deduction guide.
1. Unfortunately, you can’t claim your Chanel bag or Armani Suit
However, you can claim the cost of a briefcase (or large handbag) if it was purchased for work purposes and used to carry items such as your work laptop and work-related paperwork.
Likewise, although general business attire is not claimable, court attire such as robes and wigs are. This is because they are considered to be occupation-specific and compulsory to wear in many jurisdictions. In addition to these purchases, you can also claim cleaning, hire, repair and replacement costs for these garments.
2. You can claim your annual practising certificate
You should have recently renewed your practising certificate, or might even have recently been admitted to practice (congratulations!). Although admission fees are not claimable, you can claim a deduction for the cost of renewing your annual practising certificate. Considering the costs of renewal exceed $1,000 in many jurisdictions, this is a cost well worth claiming.
3. You can’t claim your golf membership, even if you only reached the green to network
Under the ATO rules, club membership or sponsorship fees cannot be claimed, even if the main purpose of the membership is business development. Similarly, you cannot claim the cost of entertainment, such as business lunches and attendance at sporting events, gala or social nights. Whether your attendance was made compulsory by your employer or not, these events are considered private and thus not claimable.
4. Is CPD tax deductible?
Yes, some expenses associated with your CPD training are tax deductible. For example, if you attended legal CPD seminars and conferences or completed online training to meet your mandatory requirements, you can claim the associated fees. Examples of related fees include fares to attend the venue where the seminar, conference, or training course is held or registration costs.
Remember to keep records - in either paper or digital form - of all costs you wish to claim in your annual tax return. In most cases, you need to keep these records for 5 years from the date you lodge your tax return. You can only claim work-related expenses if you have the documents to prove your claim.
LawCPD's interactive online courses fall under the training courses deduction category. This means all our legal CPD courses are tax deductible and can be claimable at tax time. If you have completed online courses with LawCPD, you can find your invoices by logging in to your account.
Please note that this is general advice only. For detailed information, visit the ATO deduction guide.
Other resources you might like:
- [Insight] 6 Skills Lawyers Need to Stay on Top of Their Game
- [Insight] 10 Most Popular Legal CPD Courses in 2023
- [CPD Course] The Balance Sheet Barrier
5. You can’t claim your Netflix subscription, but you can claim working-from-home expenses
Expenses claimable using either method include electricity and gas, computer consumables, stationery, and data and internet. It is essential you keep comprehensive records for both methods to claim your expenses.
For more information on claiming working-from-home expenses, visit the ATO working from home expenses page.
Editor's note: This article was originally published in June 2019 and has been updated in June 2023 for accuracy and comprehensiveness.