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Are vaccinations tax deductible?

January 15th, 2014

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ARE VACCINATIONS TAX DEDUCTIBLE?

Vaccinations are another area where the Tax Office keeps a watchful eye, allowing a tax deduction to only a handful of lucky taxpayers.  Generally vaccinations to cover the risk of infectious diseases at work are viewed by the Tax Office as private in nature and not tax deductible.  The reason for this is that the vaccination is to cover a disease that any taxpayer from the general community can catch.  Therefore it can’t be directly linked to the taxpayers occupation.  For example, a Nurse is certainly subject to a range of diseases in her job.  However many of those diseases can also be caught walking down the sidewalk window shopping.

The Tax Office backs up this view regarding nurses in TR 95/15.   This ruling states that a deduction is not allowable for the cost of vaccinations to protect nursing employees against the risk of contracting infectious diseases in the work place as the expense relates to a personal medical expense, and is therefore of a private nature.

They also express this view in Taxation Ruling TR 95/8 that deals with tax deductions for cleaners.  This ruling states that a deduction is not allowable for the cost of vaccinations to protect cleaners at risk from infectious diseases in the work place as the expense relates to a personal medical expense, and is therefore of a private nature.

Bottom line – if your occupation is a teacher, child care worker, nurse, tradesmen or office worker, then generally you won’t get a tax deduction for the cost of your vaccinations.

It’s not all bad news!

There will be some limited circumstances where vaccinations may be tax deductible.  This is where a taxpayer can prove the vaccination relates specifically to their occupation.  For example, a shearer gets a vaccination for infectious diseases only carried by the sheep that he works with.  The general public would not normally be subject to this disease meaning there is a clear direct link between the expense and the earning of assessable income.

ATO ID 2002/775 deals with a similar example.  In this particular ID the taxpayer operates a business as a sole trader. As a direct consequence of carrying on that business, the taxpayer is regularly exposed to cattle that may be infected with Q fever. Q fever is a well recognised occupational hazard within the cattle industry. As a result of the probability of coming into direct contact with potentially infected animals, the taxpayer incurred medical expenses to vaccinate against Q fever. His vaccination expenses were allowed as a tax deduction.  In this ID the Tax Office states:

Generally, a deduction is not allowable for the cost of vaccinations to protect against infectious diseases in the work place as this is a personal medical expense and, therefore, of a private nature (see Income Tax Ruling TR 95/8).  However, in this particular case, the disease being vaccinated against is not one which affects the general community but is restricted to persons who come into close contact with cattle.

This is great news for taxpayers that work with animals.  It means you may be entitled to a tax deduction for vaccinations against animal related diseases.  Other types of taxpayers may also be entitled to a tax deduction in extremely rare circumstances.  Note however that these taxpayers will need to prove the vaccination they are receiving is to cover a disease that is restricted to their occupation and does not affect the general community.

Finally, it really isn’t worth avoiding a vaccination and risk getting sick just because you’re not entitled to a tax deduction.  If you’re concerned about the cost of your vaccination, then I suggest talking to your employer and asking them to cover the bill.

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