Each year medical practitioners spend thousands of dollars on self-education to meet rigorous professional development and accreditation standards. Many of these expenses are tax deductible and can result in a greatly reduced tax bill come 30 June.

Self-education expenses are costs incurred as a result of undertaking a course of study at an educational institution in order to gain a formal qualification. To claim these expenses as a work-related tax deduction, there must be a sufficient connection between employment and the course undertaken. A tax deduction for self-education expenses will be available where the study enables a taxpayer to maintain or improve the skills or knowledge required in their profession, or if the study has led to or is likely to lead to, an increase in income. For example, a junior doctor studying a Masters of Surgery, as this course enables the doctor to maintain or improve the skills required in their profession.

What is tax deductible?Pile of books on white background

There are a number of self-education expenses that are tax deductible:

  • Course and tuition fees (if paid by the student at the time of studying)
  • Textbooks
  • Student union fees
  • Stationery
  • Depreciation on assets used for study (for example a laptop)
  • Internet, to the extent it is used for study
  • Phone, to the extent it is used for study

Other expenses which are tax deductible are explained in further detail below:

If a room is specifically used for the purpose of self-education, tax deductible expenses include electricity/gas and the decline in value of home office furniture, apportioned in accordance with private and self-education use. Alternatively, a fixed rate of 52 cents per hour of usage related to self-education can be used instead of calculating individual expenses.

The costs of meals, travel and accommodation are generally not tax deductible as they are considered to be of a private nature. However, these can be claimed where you are required to be temporarily away from home for one or more nights, for example, to sit an exam.

Generally the cost of travel to work is considered private and therefore not tax deductible. However, travel from home to a place of education and back, and from work to a place of education and back, is a tax deductible expense. Travel expenses can be calculated using a log book (which requires substantiation) or the cents per kilometre method.

What isn’t tax deductible?

Self-education expenses cannot be claimed before commencing employment as a medical practitioner. The costs medical students incur in relation to university studies prior to commencing employment are not tax deductible.

There must also be a sufficient connection between the study and the occupation being performed. For example a midwife studying to become a doctor will not be able to claim self-education expenses as there is a lack of a sufficient connection between their current work and the study.

Repayment of loans such as the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) debts, Student Start-up Loans (SSL) and Student Financial Supplement Scheme (SFSS) are not deductible.

In certain circumstances self-education expenses may be reduced by $250.

Should you wish to know more about your possible deductions and how they can be claimed, please contact Kristy Baxter or Janelle Kiernan from our Medical Services division on (07) 3023 1300.