Apprentice Tax Return & Deduction Checklist

7 min read

The tax season might seem like a drag, and it’s tempting to try to get it over with as quickly as possible by sending in your return without thinking about it too much. But do you realise you could be leaving money on the table that you’re legitimately entitled to keep? 

Working with an experienced tax professional, like one of our consultants at H&R Block, to do your annual return is a super smart idea because they will help you get every possible deduction relevant to your job. So you can maximise your return and have more money in your pocket at the end of the day. 

The key to success is to make sure you claim every legitimate deduction and this checklist is designed to assist you in ticking off possible work-related expenses and getting the best return.

Where to start? When you are completing an apprenticeship in any industry (such as carpentry, plumbing, commercial cookery, hairdressing, automotive body repair technology or roofing), you’ll get an income statement at the year end (we can download this for you from the ATO)or payment summary. This will outline all of your salary, wages, allowances and bonuses for the financial year, and this will form the basis of your annual return. The next step is working out your deductions.

Can I claim any deductions? 

Yes, you can! You can claim deductions on any money spent during the financial year on products or services that directly related to earning your income. You need to have spent the money yourself (it can’t have been reimbursed by your employer) and you need to keep a record of the expense such as a receipt or invoice. 

What deductions can I claim? 

There is a wide range of deductions you can claim as an apprentice, such as: 

  • Motor vehicle expenses if your job requires you to move around as part of your work day (for example, if you visit various job locations on a single day) or if you have to carry heavy or bulky equipment to and from work (such as an extension ladder) and don’t have anywhere secure to keep the equipment at work;
  • Specialised tools you need to buy for your job (such as your own pair of hair-cutting scissors or kitchen knives)
  • Buying, repairing and cleaning work clothing provided it is distinctive to your job (such as a uniform or shift with a logo) or protective clothing that is relevant to your industry (such as steel-capped boots, PPE, safety glasses or a safety vest)
  • Self education expenses that are specifically related to your current career, such as your apprenticeship course; Note that you can also claim travel expenses for going to and from the place of education, but you need to keep careful records of these expenses
  • The cost of buying protective equipment that is necessary for your job, such as sunscreen, a sunhat or sunglasses

What can’t I claim? 

There are several key expenses you can’t claim, including: 

  • The cost of travelling between your work and home, even if you live a long distance from your workplace
  • Regular clothing worn at work, such as a plain t-shirt or shorts, even if you only ever wear these particular items when you are working
  • Any tools or equipment provided to you by your employer that you were not required to purchase yourself
  • Any education costs related to re-training you for a job outside of the industry in which you are apprenticing (for example, if you’re a plumbing apprentice but doing extra training so you can move into carpentry)

What records do I need to keep? 

This is a very important point! It might sound boring but record keeping is essential, and it’s a good idea to create an easy and reliable system to help you keep on top of this throughout the year. You don’t need to keep physical receipts, and it’s acceptable to keep a digital copy (such as a photo of a receipt or an email receipt) provided it is possible to read: 

  • The name of the supplier
  • Amount of the expense
  • Nature of the goods or services
  • Date the expense was paid
  • Date of the document 

You also don’t need to keep receipts for expenses under $10 (as long as these don’t cumulatively come to more than $200). 

What happens if I make a mistake in my tax return? 

You have to take lots of care in putting together the information and supporting documentation when filing your tax return, and only claim deductions that are genuine to avoid penalties and possibly even prosecution from the ATO. But we all make innocent mistakes sometimes and if you lodge yourself and realise you’ve submitted incorrect or unsubstantiated claims then you contact us immediately and we will assist you in making the necessary amendments.

Still have some questions about lodging your tax return? Talk to H&R Block. Our experienced tax consultants will be able to help. Call 13 23 25 for details or find your nearest office and book an appointment online.


Tax Time Checklist
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