Tax Deductions You Can Claim on Self-Education Expenses

By H&R Block 4 min read

Eligible Courses to Claim Self-Education Expenses

Self-education expenses are deductible when the course you undertake leads to a formal qualification and meets the following conditions:

  • The course must have a sufficient connection to your current employment and:
    • maintain or improve the specific skills or knowledge you require in your current employment, or
    • result in, or is likely to result in, an increase in your income from your current employment.

You cannot claim a deduction for self-education expenses for a course that does not have a sufficient connection to your current employment even though it:

  • might be generally related to it, or
  • enables you to get new employment.


  1. You are a nurse and attend a conference of nursing professionals dedicated to extending professional knowledge in your chosen field of nursing. This maintains your skills in your chosen field of endeavour and is connected to your current income earning activities. You will be able to claim a  tax deduction  for attending the conference, and all related costs (see below).
  2. You are a nurse and wish to train to become a doctor. You commence a medical degree. This opens up new income earning opportunities in the future and the cost of the course is incurred too soon to be regarded as being incurred in earning your assessable income. The costs of the medical degree will not be tax deductible.

What Can I Claim?

You can claim the following expenses in relation to your self-education:

  • accommodation and meals (if away from home overnight)
  • computer consumables
  • course or tuition fees
  • decline in value for depreciating assets (cost exceeds $300)
  • purchase of equipment or technical instruments costing $300 or less
  • equipment repairs
  • fares
  • home office running costs
  • interest
  • internet usage (excluding connection fees)
  • parking fees (only for work-related claims)
  • phone calls
  • postage
  • stationery
  • student union fees
  • student services and amenities fees
  • textbooks
  • trade, professional, or academic journals
  • travel to-and-from place of education (only for work-related claims)

If an expense is partly for your self-education and partly for other purposes, you can only claim the amount that relates to your self-education as a deduction.

Expenses You Can't Claim

You cannot claim the following expenses in relation to your self-education:

  • repayments of Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) loans (although the fees paid by some HELP loans are)
  • Student Financial Supplement Scheme (SFSS) repayments
  • home office occupancy expenses
  • meals where you're  not sleeping away from home

Attending conferences and seminars

Even though attending such an event doesn't typically generate a formal qualification, you can also claim the cost of attending seminars, conferences or workshops that are sufficiently connected to your work activities. This can include formal education courses provided by professional associations.


You are a nurse and you attend a two-day professional development conference highlighting the latest advances in your field of nurses. The knowledge you gain from attending this conference will be directly applied in your work when you go back to the hospital where you work. You can claim the costs of attending the course, as well as ancillary costs such as travel, accommodation and meals.

If, as is often the case, the conference or seminar is held somewhere warm and sunny, and you decide to stay on for a short holiday afterwards, you will need to apportion your expenses between conference-related and holiday-related expenditure.

H&R Block can help

If you'd like to know more about what you can and cannot claim for self-education expenses, H&R Block can help you out. Contact us on 13 23 25 or  find an office near you today.

December 2016

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