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Can I deduct self-education or professional development course fees while on a career break and not employed?

If you are unemployed, claiming deductions for self-education expenses—including related travel and accommodation costs—can be challenging. Usually, you need to be employed and the courses should be related to your job to qualify for these deductions.

The ATO in TR 2023/D1 should corroborate this at paragraph 67 when it states:

“67. To be deductible, the expenses must be relevant to your income-earning activities at the time you incur the expense. A deduction is not available if, at the time you incur the expense, you are not undertaking income-earning activities to derive assessable income, either by employment, carrying on a business or by other means”.

Apart from that, the ATO ruling doesn’t seem to suggest it’s possible to argue that the self-education costs are deductible due to the legacy of a previous role.