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What tax deductions can you claim back on your studies?

By Ashleigh Ho

Did you know that, as a student, you may be eligible to claim tax deductions for expenses you have incurred from your studies? There are some eligibility requirements as well as a few rules on what you can claim. But if you are eligible, being reimbursed and having a bit more cash in your pocket is always a huge plus.  

How to claim self education expenses?

Claiming self education expenses can be done simply through the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). You can do it online on a computer or on the Australian Taxation Office app on your phone.

1. Check your eligibility and what you can claim.

It’s important to understand that not everybody is entitled to claim self education expenses. There are also limited items that can be expensed. See below to check your eligibility as well as the kinds of things you can expense.

2. Ensure that you have a myGov account linked to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

In order to link your myGov account to the ATO, login to your myGov account (or create one if you don’t have one already). Then go to the ‘Services’ tab and there, you should be able to link the two.

3. Claim your self education expenses.

To claim your expenses, login to myGov and go to the ATO section. Under ‘Manage Tax Returns’, you can lodge your income tax return and claim your self education expenses under Section D4.

Who is eligible for a self education tax deduction?

man studying online

Before claiming, make sure that you are eligible for a tax deduction. The ATO states that in order to claim self education expenses, there must be a significant connection between the course you are studying and your current employment.

On top of this, your studies should also:
  • improve specific skills or knowledge that you require in your current employment.
  • result in or have a high likelihood in resulting in an increase to your income at your current employment.
You won’t be able to claim self education expenses for studies that don’t have a significant enough connection to your employment, even if the course is generally related to your job. For example, studying nutrition but working casually as a waiter at a restaurant is not likely to be eligible. You also cannot claim expenses even if your course enables you to get new employment.

What expenses can I claim?

If you are eligible, there are various education-related expenses you can claim. Be sure to keep track of receipts, documents or diary entries, as you will need these during tax time.

You can claim:
  • Course and tuition fees, if paid directly by you (i.e. not put on HECS)
  • Student services and amenities fees
  • Textbooks, academic journals and stationery
  • Student union fees
  • Internet usage (except connection fees)
  • Computer consumables
  • Phone calls
  • Travel expenses (e.g. car expenses, accommodation)
  • Fees for some Higher Education Loan Programs (HELP), but not the loan itself

How much can I claim for self education expenses?

There is generally no limit to the number of expenses you can claim as long as they are related to self education. However, it is important to note that for expenses falling under Category A (as defined by the ATO), the first $250.00 of the claim is non-deductible.

5 tips to feel organised during tax time

tax budget concept

1. Use the myDeductions app.

The myDeductions app is a free way to keep all of your expense and income records in a single place. You can easily transfer what you’ve recorded to the Australian Tax Office when claiming your expenses.

2. Create a reminder for the end of financial year (EOFY) in your calendar.

Or even better – create a reminder for the EOFY two weeks to a month before tax time, so you have time to get organised.

3. Get in the habit of keeping and filing your receipts.

When claiming your self education expenses, you will need to show receipts or other documentation as proof of your purchases. Scan physical receipts into your computer and save them in a special folder. It’s also great to have a physical file handy to store any physical documentation.

4. Categories! Categories! Categories!

It can be really overwhelming when you have mountains of receipts coming out of your ears. To help with organisation, create different filing categories. For example, you could have categories for stationery and textbooks, travel and accommodation, general course fees etc. The list can go on – just as long as you have somewhere to put the receipts!

5. Struggling? Hire an accountant!

Finding all these numbers too much? You have the option to hire an accountant to do the work for you! Accountants have the knowledge and expertise to make sure that your tax return is done flawlessly. It takes the pressure of making sure everything is right and is always super useful when you have heaps of assessments due at the same time as the EOFY.

Study an online course this tax season

Overall, there are a great variety of self-education expenses that students are entitled to claim. It is super beneficial to claim these expenses if you are eligible – I mean, extra income, am I right?

It doesn’t have to be a difficult process - this guide should give you the tools you need for a simple and easy tax period. Want more financial advice? Check out Upskilled’s SkillsTalk section to have a read of tips and tricks that can make financing a breeze.
View all Financial advice articles

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*By providing your information, you agree to our Privacy Policy and to receiving email and other forms of communication from Upskilled. You are able to opt-out at any time.