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Conference, seminar and self – education expenses simplified
5 February 2021 | Minutes to read: 2

Conference, seminar and self – education expenses simplified

By William Buck

Have you ever wondered whether the costs of conferences, seminars, and efforts at self-education are deductible? And what associated costs you can claim? There’s both good news and bad news.

On the upside, the costs of going to conferences and seminars can be tax deductible. However, note that the purpose of attending a seminar or conference is to maintain or increase the knowledge, capabilities or skills you need in relation to your current employment. For example, as a junior doctor, the costs of attending an accounting seminar are not deductible as it does not further your capabilities in your existing role -there is no direct correlation to the income that you earn.

What expenses can be claimed?

  • Registration costs of the seminar/conference
  • Transport for attending the seminar/conference, including airfares, train, taxi fares
  • Parking fees and tolls
  • Meals and drinks, such as lunch during the day of the seminar/conference (no alcohol)
  • Accommodation if attending the seminar/conference requires overnight stay

To be deductible all of the above costs must be paid by you and cannot have been reimbursed by your employer.

Where you have decided to stay longer or arrive earlier, these extra days are considered personal in nature and are not tax deductible. In these circumstances, the tax deduction will be apportioned between business and personal. For example, if you are attending a conference (2 days) in Sydney and you plan to stay three extra days to catch up with some friends, then you can only claim maximum three nights of accommodation and three fifths of the airfares. You may be able to claim an extra day on either side of the conference for accommodation depending on start and finish times.

Self-education expenses

Self-education expenses are the costs you incur to undertake a study course at a school, college, university or other recognised place of education. These expenses can be tax deductible when the course you undertake:

  • has a strong connection with your current employment and maintains/improves the specific skills you require in your current employment;
  • results in – or is likely to result in – an increase in your income from your current employment.

As a junior doctor, if you undertake a course for personal development, the cost of this course is unlikely to be tax deductible because the course is not occupation specific.

There are many general course expenses on which you can claim a tax deduction. Such as the tuition fee, textbooks, stationery, travel costs and fees payable on some HELP loans, but not the loan itself.

Please also remember, you may need to keep receipts or other documents showing your seminar/conference expenses and self-education expenses.

If you wish to further discuss potential tax advantages, please contact your William Buck adviser.

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