Written by Mark Chapman, director of communications for H&R Block Australia.

Nobody likes completing a tax return, but you have to do it, so you might as well get yourself the best possible outcome by claiming everything you’re entitled to.

Here’s H&R Block’s guide to the top tax tips for retail workers:


If you’re required to wear a uniform at work, the cost is deductible. If you wear conventional clothing, the cost isn’t deductible. Some retail workers in fashion stores are required to wear clothing from the particular store or brand they are employed by; but those garments are still classed as conventional clothing, so no deduction is available.

Working from home

If you spend time working from home – for instance preparing staff rosters at the weekend for the week ahead – you can claim a proportion of home running costs, either based on actual costs (in which case you’ll need receipts), a standard rate of 52 cents per hour, or the special concessional rate of 80 cents per hour. Be warned, the 80 cent rate covers everything whereas with the 52 cent rate, you can still claim your home internet, mobile phone and depreciation on electronic equipment (for example, your computer or laptop); because of this, the 52 cents rate often produces the bigger deduction.


Claim a deduction for the cost of any work-related courses. That could include health and safety or first aid courses, management training or job related courses such as a Cert III in retail.

Work-related travel

If you travel between stores, you can claim the cost of travel from one work location to another. That could include any time you spend temporarily working from a different store to your regular workplace (perhaps providing holiday cover) as well as trips between stores delivering stock.

COVID-19 expenses

If your job requires physical contact or proximity with customers or clients during the COVID-19 period, like the retail industry, you can claim a deduction for items such as:

  • Gloves
  • Face masks
  • Sanitiser
  • Antibacterial spray.

In relation to COVID-19 tests, the government has announced that it’s making COVID-19 tests tax-deductible for Australian individuals when they are purchased for work-related purposes from 1 July 2021.

The cost of the tests is to be made specifically deductible where they are purchased for work-related purposes from 1 July 2021. However, such costs may already be deductible; under the existing general deduction provisions, an individual may qualify for a tax deduction for the cost of a COVID-19 test (either PCR or RAT) where they are taken for work-related purposes, eg where there is a mandatory requirement under your employer’s COVID-19 policy.

A COVID-19 test may also be required by certain countries and states in order for an employee to enter that territory or return to their home state. This too is tax deductible where the test is required for a work-related trip. 

RAT kits purchased by individuals for private purposes (eg personal travel, convenience, no access to PCR testing) will not be tax deductible, either under existing law or under the government’s proposals.

If you spend money on transport to get to and from the site of a COVID-19 PCR test (or expenses in traveling to the chemist or supermarket to acquire an RAT), these will not be tax deductible as they are regarded as private expenses, even if the test is a condition of your employment.

Subscriptions and union fees 

If you’re part of a trade union, your fees are deductible as are magazines subscriptions associated with your line of work, for example, subscriptions to specialist retail publications.