Tax Deductions for University Students

As a student, various taxes may apply to you. Fortunately, some tax deductions are available for university students, which we are here to help guide you through.

Do I need to lodge a student tax return?

If you are a student and your individual income is more than $18,200 in a financial year, you will be required to file a tax return. You can lodge your tax return through a trusted accountant or the ATO MyGov online portal any time between July 1 2021, and October 31 2021.

What information do I need to collect?

You’ll need certain information to lodge your tax return including payment summaries from each employer, bank statements, your tax file number, investment income documents, and invoices for self-employment earnings.
If you plan to claim your laptop on tax for uni purposes, among other self-education and work-related deductions, you will also need to work out depreciation costs and retain receipts.

What type of student tax deductions can I claim?

As a student, you may be entitled to some self-education deductions, such as:

  • Tuition fees (except those paid under HECS-HELP)
  • Textbooks
  • Stationary
  • Computer consumables (e.g. printer cartridges)
  • Photocopying
  • Student services and amenities fees
  • Travel expenses 
  • Home study expenses
  • Depreciating assets & more

However, in order to claim these course expenses, you will need to prove that the expenses sufficiently relate to:

  • Improving the skills and knowledge required in your current employment, and/or,
  • Will likely result in an increase in income at your current employment

The cost of scholarships and grants for your education or training may also be deducted.

Find out more about self-education expenses.

*Source: Australian Taxation Office. Self-education expenses. (2021).

Can I claim personal costs?

Self-education expense deductions are in place to help people to upskill in their current workplace. Personal costs, therefore, fall under a different category.

You can claim certain things such as charity donations and fees incurred for managing your student tax return.

If you’ve donated money to a deductible gift recipient like a charity, you can claim back donations of at least $2, as long as you have a receipt for the donation. 

You can also claim deductions for fees paid to a tax agent for managing your taxes, and this benefit can actually be carried over to the following financial year, giving you an extra year to make your claim.

International students and tax returns in Australia

Taxes for international students work similarly to domestic students.

If you have been living in Australia for more than six months, the ATO considers you an Australian resident for tax purposes, which means you are required to adhere to the Australian tax rules.

However, if you’re a temporary resident living in Australia for less than six months, you may be exempt from the Australian tax rules.
Find more information for international students and tax returns.

Which tax offsets can I claim?

As a student, you may be able to claim an offset if you’re the recipient of certain allowances. Some of these tax offsets include beneficiary tax offsets, small business income tax offsets, and offsets if you’re a shareholder in an Australian company known as the franking credit tax offset.

The small business offset, in particular, can be complex to understand, so it’s worth consulting with a tax specialist if you believe you are entitled to this.

For more information on student tax in Australia, head to the Education and study – specific self-education expenses page on the Australian Taxation Office website.