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Can I Claim My Education Expenses?

You may be able to claim your tax back for any fees that you pay in education expenses if it relates to your present employment activities or you receive a taxable bonded scholarship. Provided that you meet the eligibility requirements, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) allows for these education expenses to be claimed.

To be eligible, the course must:

  • be undertaken at an educational institution 
  • be connected to your current employment, work-related seminars or conferences
  • be a self-paced learning and study tours, overseas or within Australia 
  • lead to a formal qualification
  • improve specific knowledge or skills you require in your current employment
  • cause an increase in your income from your current employment.

What you get back in your tax return depends on your earnings, tax rate, and how much you spend on training. Deductions reduce your taxable income so you won’t pay tax on expenses you claim as a deduction.

It’s time to consider taking advantage of tax time by taking up studies as the end of financial year (EOFY) nears.

Education expenses

The ATO outlines information on how to claim back tax with education expenses. You can be entitled to a tax deduction for expenses including the following:

  • course fees
  • textbooks
  • professional, trade, or academic journals
  • stationery
  • photocopying
  • computer consumables
  • student union fees
  • student services and amenities fees
  • internet usage, excluding connection fees
  • phone calls
  • accommodation and meals, if away from home overnight
  • home office running costs while you are studying such as the cost of heating, cooling, lighting
  • allowable travel expenses, only for work-related claims
  • parking fees, only for work-related claims.

Self-education expenses

Students can claim self-education expenses if there’s a connection between the course and their role in the business. However in some cases, you may have to reduce the amount of your claim by $250.

Self-education expenses are broken into five categories:

  • Category A – Tuition fees, textbooks, stationery, student union fees, student services and amenities fees, public transport fares, car expenses worked out using the ‘logbook’ method (other than the decline in value of a car), running expenses for a room set aside specifically for study.
  • Category B – Decline in value (depreciation) deductions such as a computer, desk, or car for which you are claiming a deduction in Category A under the ‘logbook’ method.
  • Category C – Repair costs to assets used for self-education purposes. Don’t include car repair expenses here as it is part of car expenses in Category A or D.
  • Category D – Car expenses using the ‘cents per kilometre’ method. You can’t use this method if you have used the ‘logbook’ method in category A.
  • Category E – Expenses you have incurred but can’t use as a deduction, for example:
    • for work-related self-education, travel expenses for the last stage of travel from your 
      • home to place of education and then to your workplace, or
      • workplace to your place of education and then to your home
    • for taxable scholarship recipients who are not employed by the scholarship provider, travel expenses from your home to your normal place of education and back
    • child care costs related to attendance at lectures or other self-education activities
    • capital costs of items acquired in the financial year and used for self-education purposes, such as a computer or desk.

These expenses can be used to offset the $250 reduction to your Category A expenses. (source: Australian Taxation Office)

Although there are claims you won’t be able to make, which may include:

  • Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) loans repayments, however, the fees paid by some HELP loans are
  • Student Financial Supplement Scheme (SFSS) repayments 
  • home office occupancy expenses 
  • meals, unless sleeping away from home.

If you pay for your course before the 30th of June and you meet all the eligibility criteria, you may be able to claim your self-education refund on this year’s tax return. Also, you could potentially have money back in your pocket in just a couple of months.

If you liked our “Can I Claim My Education Expenses?” and find it useful, check our blogs regularly for more information on how to get out of debt and updates on the best budgeting apps in Australia.