A current trend in the workplace is for people to change direction several times throughout their career. It is now commonplace for workers to undertake study to train in a new field, or to upgrade their expertise for an existing role. A host of new education options has sprung up to fulfil this need. 

You might be considering further study yourself, and wonder whether you can claim self-education costs in your next tax return. In some cases you can, but the rules regarding this are complicated, and it might be wise to consult an expert. However, following are some general guidelines to get you started.

Self Education Expenses & Your Current Employment

For self-education costs to be claimable, they must be directly related to your current job. The study must improve or maintain skill or knowledge, or upgrade a qualification, that you use in your current role. Alternatively, education expenses may be claimable if you can demonstrate that the study led to or was likely to result in, increased pay in your current role or else that it was training as part of a traineeship.

You cannot claim self-education costs just because the study improved your skills as a whole so enabling you to obtain alternate employment, or the study increased your income by allowing you to work in a different role—even if this was with the same company.

Education expenses are not claimable if they only relate in a general way to your current position. Training that takes you beyond the skills and knowledge needed in your current role might not be claimable even if that training relates to your current role generally.

Types of Claimable Expenses

If you can establish a valid link between study and your current employment, the types of deductible expenses can include course and tuition fees, books and stationery, depreciation on equipment such as computers, travel to and from the place of study, home office expenses, and some study related travel expenses.

Remember to keep records of all expenditures so that you can substantiate any claims. Also, often the first $250 of your self-education expenses are non-deductible, but can be offset in other ways. You should see a tax consultant like Taxwise to determine your particular position on this. 

Re-educating yourself is an investment that, while rewarding, can drain the budget. If you think some of the costs you have incurred are claimable, it might be wise to see an expert to aim for some financial reward when submitting your next tax return.