Tax deductions for pilots, doing your taxes might seem extremely dull in comparison to flying high in the sky when you’re working as a pilot. When you spend so much time off the ground and flying planes to locally, interstate or overseas, you need to stay focused on the job at hand. However, being aware of your deductions can be highly valuable and allow you to get back some of your hard-earned money.

To complete your tax return as a pilot, you will first be required to have an income statement from your employer (previously called a “payment summary” or “group certificate”). This is a summary that outlines all of your salary, wages, allowances and bonuses for the financial year.

You won’t need to have a copy of this statement, as it should be lodged by your employer directly to the Australian Tax Office (ATO).

As a pilot you will be aware of the fact that you are entitled to claim deductions on any money spent during the financial year on products or services that directly related to earning an income. But there are two crucial things you need to remember:  Firstly, you need to have spent the money yourself (it can’t have been reimbursed by your employer), and secondly you need to keep a record of the expense such as a receipt or invoice.  

Tax Deductions For Pilots: Things A Pilot Can Claim as A Tax Deduction

Here is a list of all the things you can claim as a tax deduction.

  • Any expenses in relation to buying, repairing and cleaning any work clothing items that are either part of your official uniform or distinctive to your company (such as a shirt with a company logo on it.
  • Car expenses, including parking costs and tolls, if you travel between different jobs on the same day (for example from your day job as a pilot to a second job as a cadet trainer) or to different locations for your work, such as from the head office to the airport
  • Any costs related to purchasing rehydrating moisturisers, hair conditioners or vitamins specifically used to reduce the effects of the abnormally dry conditions of an airplane cabin
  • Self-education costs for attending any courses, training or seminars specifically related to your current line of work, such as updating your first aid certification or attending a training course on new aircraft technology to reduce turbulence
  • The cost of renewing licences you hold specifically for your employment, such as a pilot’s licence, but not the cost of getting it in the first place
  • Any union and professional association fees  
  • Salary guarantee and loss of licence insurance where the payment under the policy will be assessable income to replace lost earnings
  • Meals when you are travelling away from home overnight for work, and overtime meals when your employer pays you an overtime meal allowance under an industrial law, award or agreement.
  • Travel expenses such as accommodation if you are travelling for work and need to stay away from home overnight, and pay these expenses yourself.
  • Any expenses related to buying, hiring, repairing and cleaning any items of clothing that are part of a uniform and required for your work.
  • The cost of buying luggage, suitcase trolleys, navigation bags or carry bags used specifically for work-related travel.
  • Any costs associated with securing visas required to enter any country you’re visiting for work.
  • Journals, periodicals and magazines that are specifically related to your job as a pilot.
  • Any costs incurred doing medical examinations (including regular aviation and medical appointments and examinations required by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority) that you need to take to fulfil your health assessment requirements for the renewal of your work-related licences.
  • Phone and internet expenses for any work-related usage on your personal phone or device, provided they are not already covered by your employer.

Tax Deductions For Pilots: Things That A Pilot Is Unable to Claim as A Tax Deduction

Here is a list of key expenses you are unable to claim as a tax deduction when working as a pilot.

  • Any regular clothing worn to your workplace that could also be worn outside of work (such as jeans or a white t-shirt) even if you only wear it for work and bought it specifically to wear to work; this includes regular clothing bought deliberately to look like a passenger when working, such as a business suit, and any watches or timepieces.
  • The cost of any meals or snacks consumed during the course of a normal work day, even if you are given an allowance by your employer to cover the meal expense.
  • Any grooming costs, including hairdressing services and buying items of makeup, even if it’s a requirement of your job to be well presented.
  • The cost of renewing your driver’s license, even if having it is a condition of your employment.
  • Any fines that are incurred during your work day, including a fine from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) for failing to record all the necessary information in the flight technical log for the aircraft you are flying or failing to comply with a CASA direction.
  • The cost of buying any gaming consoles or flight simulator games.
  • The cost of purchasing prescription glasses or contact lenses, unless they’re anti-glare glasses if you wear them to reduce the risk of illness or injury while working in your job as a pilot.
  • Any costs incurred when travelling between your home and your workplace, including parking fees or tolls, even if you live a long distance away or are on call and have to come in for a shift at the last minute.  

Tax Deductions For Pilots: What Records Do Pilots Need to Keep for Tax Related Purposes?

When you are preparing for tax time, you will need to have good documentation to back you up. This means that you must stay on top of your paperwork and have a comprehensive set of receipts if you want to get a good tax refund. It’s a smart idea to create an easy and reliable system to help you keep on top of this throughout the year.  

Remember, you don’t need to keep physical receipts, and it’s acceptable to keep a digital copy (such as a photo of a receipt or an email receipt) provided it is possible to read:  

  • The name of the supplier
  • Amount of the expense
  • Nature of the goods or services
  • Date the expense was paid
  • Date of the document  

You also don’t need to keep receipts for expenses under $10 as long as these don’t cumulatively come to more than $200.