Personal Tax Specialists

tax deductions for defence force members

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Are you a new recruit?

If so, Personal Tax Specialists offer an introductory rate of $175 (for a standard tax return) for your first tax return which includes Defence income. When you join the defence force there is lots to learn about what deductions you can and can’t claim, the special offsets you are entitled to if you are deployed overseas or in remote areas and the medicare levy exemptions. We specialise in preparing tax returns for Defence personnel and because we work with clients throughout Australia, it doesn’t matter how many times you have to move, you won’t ever need to find a new accountant.

So, what you can claim

If you work in the Army, Navy or Airforce, some of the tax deductions you may be able to claim on your personal tax return are:

Meals and Travel

  • The cost of parking, tolls, taxis and public transport if you are required to travel to attend seminars, meetings and training courses off base (if you need to stay away overnight you can also claim for the cost of all meals and your accommodation unless you have been reimbursed for these costs by the ADF)
  • The cost of using your own car for work, including travel to attend meetings or attend training courses that are not held at your normal base. You may also be able to claim your travel from home to work if you have to carry bulky tools or equipment, for example ADF divers carrying scuba diving gear. To claim for car costs it is usually best to keep a diary record of the number of kilometres you travel during the year for work purposes and then we can calculate the amount of your tax deduction at the end of the year
  • The cost of compulsory mess subscriptions, but not the component that relates to meals, food and entertainment

Work Clothing

  • The cost of buying your military uniform (including items such as military white, blue or khaki shirts with rank or other embellishments, standard matching trousers, regulation jumpers and jackets, official mess uniform, hats or caps with rank or other embellishments, service dress shoes, handbags and clutch bags, socks and stockings, and camouflage shirt and trousers)
  • The cost of protective clothing (such as wet weather gear, safety coloured vests, gloves, goggles, masks, steel-capped boots, gum boots or sun protection clothing)
  • The cost of laundry or dry cleaning of your uniforms
  • The cost of repairing your uniforms
  • The cost of buying sun protection items, including sunscreen, hats and sunglasses, if you are required to work outdoors


  • The cost of work-related short training courses, provided the course directly relates to your current job (you can also claim for the cost of travelling to and from the course and any accommodation and meal expenses if you are required to stay away overnight)
  • The cost of self-education courses run by a University (not including HECS/HELP payments) or TAFE. If you are studying, you can also claim for the cost of books, stationery, equipment and travel required for your course

Work Tools & Equipment

  • The cost of buying and repairing equipment you use at work, including tools, electronic organisers, laptop computers and mobile phones
  • The cost of a stopwatch or other watch with special characteristics (for example for diving)
  • The cost of additional or more sophisticated weapon related equipment – rifles, ammunition and cleaning equipment – if you paid for these items in addition to the amounts provided by the ADF
  • The cost of insuring your tools and equipment

Other Work Expenses

  • The cost of annual association membership fees if they relate to your current work
  • The cost of work-related magazines or professional publications
  • The cost of work-related books or journals
  • The cost of work-related mobile or home telephone calls and rental (you should keep a diary record of the number of phone calls you make for work for one month and then we can use that to estimate your usage for the whole year)
  • The cost of work-related internet connection fees (you can only claim the proportion of your monthly fees that relate to work use, which could include emailing and research relating to your job or training)
  • The cost of maintaining a home office if you are required to complete work at home (you should keep a diary to record how many hours per week you spend working from your home office)
  • The cost of extra regimental duties (ERD) if the ERD forms part of your income-earning activities
  • The cost of maintaining your fitness, but only if you are required to maintain a very high level of fitness, well above the ADF general standard, and you earn your ADF income by performing a range of duties designed to keep you physically prepared. This generally only applies to physical training instructors and respective members of the Australian Special Forces.
  • The cost of renewing licences, but not including your normal drivers licence

General Expenses

There are some tax deductions that all employees can claim on their personal tax returns:

  • The amount of any donations to registered charities (as long as you haven’t received anything in return for your donation, such as raffle tickets or novelty items)
  • The cost of bank fees charged on any investment accounts
  • The cost of income protection or sickness and accident insurance premiums (this type of insurance covers you if you hurt yourself (including when you are not at work) or become sick and you are unable to work. It will pay you your normal wage until you are fit to return to work – if you don’t have this insurance you should see a financial adviser or ask us and we will refer you to someone who can organise it for you. It is definitely worthwhile)
  • Your tax agent fees (the amount you pay to your accountant to prepare your tax return each year)
  • The cost of travelling to see your tax agent (you can claim the cost of travelling to see your accountant to have your tax return prepared. You should keep a record of the number of kilometres you travel and any other incidental costs such as parking, meals, accommodation etc)

We suggest that you keep receipts for all purchases that are work related, even if they are not listed above. That way, when we prepare your tax return, we can decide whether you are allowed to claim a tax deduction for them or not.

If you would like any more information about the deductions listed or if you would like the Personal Tax Specialists team to prepare your tax return for you to ensure you maximise your claims this year, contact us at

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