Defence tax deductions

Defence tax deductions

There are a large number of tax deductions that Australian Defence Force personnel are eligible to  claim on their personal income tax, but are often left unclaimed in annual tax returns.

There is good reason for this. The categories for deductions for Australian Defence Force personnel are nuanced and can be complicated to factor into a return if you are completing it without guidance from an accountant or tax specialist.

Austax can provide this expertise through their accountancy services. We maintain a strong understanding of Australian Defence Force members and the procedures for lodging their returns.

The typical deductions for charitable donations, home office and self-education expenses are widely known and common to many returns. For ADF members, you may be missing out if you fail to claim not only the typical deductions but those that are applicable to your membership in the Australian Defence Force.

The below provides a listing of some of these claimable, work-related deductions, providing you paid for them and have not been reimbursed, that you have a receipt to provide purchase, and that the item/s are closely connected to your ability to earn your wages.

Uniforms and professional fees

If you incur expenses that include:

  • Mandatory mess fees/subscriptions,
  • military uniforms, including PT shirts, caps, boots, hats, rank embellishments
  • cleaning/ laundering costs associated with these uniforms


If you incur expenses that include the purchase of military equipment; such as a compass, backpack, swag, pouches, Alice pack, medical equipment, Watch (with specialized functions) and other general camping equipment.


If you incur expenses that include:

  • driving back and forth between bases or are using your vehicle to transport military equipment due to its size and shape.
  • In some cases, you can also claim a deduction if you are required to travel between your work site and home, for example, you need to transport heavy items, such as field equipment, to prepare for a military exercise.

In these cases, the deductions are allowable if the Australian Defence Force would see this equipment as essential, bulky (above 20kg), had required you to transport it to your barrack or work site, there were no reasonable options for the equipment to be stored at the barrack or work site, and you completed a log book to register these trips.

Fitness-related activities

  • If you incur expenses as a result of a job requirement that includes maintaining a specified fitness level that is goes beyond the general ADF standard, then you may be entitled to claim expenses related to these activities.
  • Usually if you are part of a Special Forces Unit, or a Combat Fitness leader you would be entitled to Fitness-related expense claims.


If you incur expenses that include:

  • Self-education – for example, enrolment in a course/s that relates to your role in the ADF or a possible promotion. These expenses can include workbooks, the course fees and associated equipment, provided the course, seminar or conference is closely aligned to your role.

If you participate in educational courses that could be viewed as providing a pathway to moving outside of the Australian Defence Force, or are more general in their educational outcomes, then these would not be covered.