Doctors - what is tax deductible in Australia?

Posted 8/11/2021 by Alasdair Spinner
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The reason I'm writing this blog is because I was asked a question by a specialist international medical graduate about whether continuing medical education (CME) is and isn't tax deductible for senior medical practitioners working in Australia. 

 

I didn't know the answer to his question about CME specifically (I do now - you'll find it below) but I did know some general info so felt it'd be useful to expand on the subject of available tax deductions in Australia specifically for medical professionals. Please note what follows is a general summary and is correct as of today November 6th 2021 with all information taken from the Australian tax office (ATO). Please seek more advice from an Aussie based tax accountant. 

You can also look at current job opportunities here.

 

 

Travel

As a doctor you can claim a tax deduction for travel expenses if you need to travel overnight and don't attend your usual work location - for example, travelling to a remote location to undertake outreach or provide care at a remote hospital. You can claim it as long as the cost was incurred whilst carrying out work duties e.g. meals, accommodation and incidental expenses you incurred which your employer will not reimburse. 

 

Also, receiving a travel allowance from an employer doesn't mean this entitles you to a tax deduction. You'll still need to show you were away from home and any monies spent was by you and any travel was specifically related to you earning your income.

 

 

Clothing expenses

Doctors can claim a deduction for the cost of buying, hiring, mending and cleaning items of clothing (uniforms) unique to your job e.g. surgical caps or lab coats which your employer needs you to wear. You cannot claim a deduction for the purchase cost or for cleaning normal clothing which you wear at work - even if your employer tells you to wear it and even if it is only worn at work, like a business suit. 

 

Car expenses 

If you drive between two different jobs on the same e.g. driving between house calls you can claim a deduction. You can also claim a tax deduction when travelling between different community clinics or hospitals. Generally, you can’t claim the cost of trips between home and work, even if you live a long way from your usual workplace or have to work outside normal business hours like when on call.

 

In some unique circumstances you're able to claim cost of trips between work and home but they're not worth detailing here and you should check with a tax accountant based in Australia. 

 

 

Continuing medical education

In Australia you can claim a deduction for your ongoing medical education if your 'course' or activity relates directly to the job e.g. CPD to maintain your medical education with AHPRA. You cannot claim a deduction if your study is related only in a general sense or is an activity designed to transition you from one job to another with new qualifications. 

 

If you undertake a CME activity which has work and private components – e.g. a conference in your home country with continuing professional development opportunities  – you need to assign the expenses and claim the work-related part.

 

Please note you can’t claim travel expenses if you're undertaking private travel and then add on a work-related component – eg while on holiday in Broome, you notice a work-related seminar and decide to attend. The ATO says:  "In this scenario, you may claim the seminar fees, but not your travel expenses such as flights or accommodation."

 

 

To find out more about tax in Australia as a senior medical practitioner, how much you can earn in Australia or to ask about current jobs etc. please get in touch with me for a friendly discussion. You can message or call me on +44 7414 531 583 or email alasdair@spinnermedical.com 

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