Conference Costs – Tax Deductible?

Client “B” asks: “I currently work in the design team at a major company. In August there is a conference in Brisbane that is pitched at our industry. Previously the team has been funded to attend this conference, but this year we are being encouraged to self-fund. Can the conference costs can be claimed as a deduction in my personal tax return? If so, what if I stay over for a few days?

Hi B,

  • The test is whether the conference costs were ‘necessarily incurred in earning your assessable income’.  The ‘necessary’ causes some taxpayers some concerns.
  • If the conference keeps your knowledge current and/or refines your skills, and is in the area that you currently operate and is in the nature of continuing professional development, then you will be OK and costs for the conference, local and air travel and accommodation will be tax deductible.
  • It must be connected to you earning your current income.  If it was a conference where you were acquiring totally new skills, e.g.: car salesman, then this would be seen as a capital expense and not deductible against your current income.
  • If you can get some letter from your employer that they would like to attend so that your knowledge is kept current, then that would be perfect.  If you can’t get their support, then you can still claim this self-education if you believe that the above criteria can be met.
  • Please keep in mind that if a portion of your travel is private in nature then you will need to show that you have reduced your claim to exclude any private portion of that trip. If the conference is 3 days long but you decide to stay for an extra night, then that night would not be deductible. As the main purpose of the trip was for a work related conference all the airfares, and accommodation would be deductible.
  • You can also claim meal and other incidental expenses incurred while away on overnight work related travel.

Hope this helps.  If you want to discuss these opportunities further, feel free to give me a ring on 03 9585 7555 or email me


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