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Self Education Deductions In 2024

Self-education expenses are expenses relating to courses of education provided by a school, college, university or other place of education. Self-education expenses also include work-related seminars and conferences conducted by commercial training organisations.

 

Generally speaking, self-education expenses are tax deductible where the expenses are directly connected with the taxpayer’s current income-earning activities. Expenses can include tuition fees, textbooks, and travel and living expenses where the course is undertaken away from home. However, your circumstances have to meet the strict criteria required by the ATO. 

 

If you are eligible to claim your self education expenses, the next step is to know, and understand, exactly which ATO self education expenses you can claim, and how. To help you understand we have put together some helpful tax tips below. expenses.

Criteria Of Self-Education

You may be able to claim the costs of self-education if one of the following describes your situation:

  • At the time the expense was incurred there was a direct connection between the self-education and your current work activities.

  • You can show that the study leads to, or may result in, an increase in income from your current employment or work activities.

  • Any other direct connection can be found between your self-education and ongoing work activities.

 

You cannot claim self-education expenses if:

  • The study was undertaken to obtain a new job, to open up a new business or to facilitate new income earning activities. For example, a receptionist studying to become a vet cannot claim self-education expenses as the qualification is not required for her current role

The intention or purpose of a taxpayer in incurring self-education expenses is often considered when determining whether the expenses are characterised as allowable.

 

Where a taxpayer genuinely undertakes a course of self-education to obtain a promotion within their current employment activities, this would normally be eligible for a tax deduction.

 

There are circumstances where apportionment is required. For example, if a study tour or attendance at a work-related conference or seminar is undertaken for income-earning purposes and private purposes, it is appropriate to apportion the expenses between the two.

What Can I Claim As Self-Education?

There are general expenses that you can claim for self education. You may be eligible to claim self-education expenses for the following items:

  • Student union and course fees.

  • Text books, stationery, photocopying, professional and trade journals.

  • Home office expenses, software, printer cartridges, and internet access.

  • Interest on loans used to purchase computers or to pay fees.

  • Depreciation on major equipment (computers and printers).

  • Secretarial expenses (typing of assignments).

Can I Claim Interest On Loans To Fund Self-Education?

Interest incurred on loans where the funds are used to pay for self-education expenses can be considered as a tax deduction. The expense can only be claimed if the self education enables a taxpayer to maintain or improve their skills or knowledge, or is likely to lead to an increase in income from the taxpayer’s current income earning activities.

 

The connection between the interest expense, and the income-earning activity in each income year will be considered. If interest is claimed because of a change in circumstances, for example, a change of employment, the necessary connection between the expense and the current income earning activity may no longer exist. 

 

Interest is not deductible where the use of the borrowed money is to pay HECS-HELP fees.

Can I Claim Travel As Self-Education?

You may be entitled to claim travel expenses incurred for self education, including public transport fares and the running costs associated with motor vehicles, where the travel includes:

The cost of travel between:

  • Your home and your place of education;

  • Your place of education and your home;

  • Your work and your place of education;

  • Your place of education and your work.

You may only claim the first leg of each trip when you travel:

  • from home to your place of education, then to your work; or

  • from your workplace to your place of education then your home.

Can I Claim Meals And Accommodation As Self-Education?
  • You can only claim accommodation and meal expenses if you maintain a home, and have to stay overnight, away from your usual place of residence due to your study commitments. Example: You live in Ballarat, however you study in Melbourne, you could claim the cost of staying overnight in Melbourne once a week, if you have a permanent place of residence in Ballarat.

  • The cost of meals is generally a private and non-claimable expense. However, you may be able to claim the cost of meals while travelling if:

    • You are undertaking self-education directly connected to your current work, and

    • That self-education requires you to be temporarily absent from your home for one or more nights

Can I Claim Overseas Travel As Self-Education?
  • If you undertake overseas travel as part of your self education, a deduction can be claimed for airfares incurred as part of self-education expenses when attending:

  • Overseas study tours

  • Sabbaticals

  • Work-related conferences or seminars

  • An educational institution

What Can't I Claim As Self-Education?
  • You cannot claim the following self-education expenses:

  • Occupancy expenses like mortgage interest, rent, house insurance, and council rates

  • HECS-HELP payments

  • Financial Supplement Loan Repayments

  • Open Learning Agency of Australia basic charges

Not sure what you can claim for self education. Speak to a Tax Specialist today to ensure you claim every deduction you are entitled to!

LAST UPDATED: 25/12/2023

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