Tax Deduction for Sunglasses
Sunglasses (including prescription sunglasses) are a legitimate claim for a taxpayer if their job involves exposure to the sun from working outdoors. Taxpayers may also be able to claim a tax deduction for sunglasses where their job involves a lot of travel.
Taxation Ruling 2003/16 gives three examples of situations where a taxpayer may be able to claim a tax deduction for sunglasses:
Trevor, an outdoor worker in a horticulture business, uses sunglasses, a sunhat and sunscreen to protect himself from exposure to the sun when at work. As there is the necessary connection between the expenditure and Trevor’s income earning activities, he can claim a deduction for the cost of these items.
Alison is an office worker. Her employer’s offices are located in two buildings, a short walk apart. She wears sunglasses when walking to the other office. The facts in Alison’s case indicate that the risk of illness from the environment in which she works is not sufficient to make it necessary for her to use protective items to counter that risk. Consequently, there is not the necessary connection between Alison’s expenditure on the sunglasses and her income earning activities. Any protection provided by the sunglasses is not incidental and relevant to her income earning activities. Therefore Alison cannot claim a deduction for the sunglasses. If the walking distance between the offices was sufficient to require Alison to take protection from the sun, she would be able to claim a deduction for the protective items. An indication that there was a sufficient requirement for Alison to take protection when walking between the offices would be that, in addition to wearing sunglasses, Alison also found the need to apply sunscreen lotion and to wear a hat.
William, who drives a truck for a living, finds it necessary to wear sunglasses to protect him against the glare of the sun while driving the truck. He also needs to wear glasses while driving, for his short sightedness. He buys a pair of prescription sunglasses which counter the glare during day driving. He also buys a pair of untinted prescription glasses for night driving. William can claim a deduction for the prescription sunglasses, but not for the untinted prescription glasses.
At the end of the day the determining factor in a taxpayer’s ability to claim a tax deduction for sunglasses will be the length of time they are actually required to spend outdoors as part of their job.