i am an IT contractor and I would like to go to a seminar overseas. I'm paying for this by myself, however, I believe it is related to what I do and could be classed as an educational expense.

The other thing is the conference only goes for around 2 days but whilst I'm there, I figure I may as well spend a week or two visiting the sites as I'm flying all the way there.

My question is, can I claim my flights and the hotel expenses for the two nights I'm at the conference on tax? I wouldn't have gone to the country if it wasn't for the conference.

  • Just to clarify: you're in Australia, correct? Oct 12 '10 at 7:05
  • yes, that is correct
    – Joe.E
    Oct 13 '10 at 12:20

You can deduct this if the main purpose of the trip is to attend the seminar.

Travel expenses relating to the attendance at conferences, seminars and other work-related events are deductible to the extent that they relate to your income-producing activities. You will need to apportion your travel expenses where you undertake both work-related and private activities. Travel costs to and from the location of the work-related event will only be deductible where the primary purpose of the travel was to attend the event. Accommodation, food and other incidental costs must be apportioned between work-related and private activities taking into account the types of activities that you did on the day you incurred the cost.

You might like to consider in advance what you would tell them if they questioned this - for instance you might say (if they are true):

  • I've attended similar seminars previously, in other locations
  • I never seriously considered going to Elbonia until after I heard about this seminar
  • The work benefits of this seminar were as follows..
  • I've strictly excluded the vacation-related expenses from my claim
  • 2
    Nice, not only did you cite a source, but you suggested that he prepare his justification in advance. (And, LOL @ Elbonia.) Nov 24 '10 at 0:24

I think you can. I went to Mexico for business and the company paid for it, so if you are self employed you should be able to expense it.

  • He's not talking about expenses, he's talking about tax deduction. Jan 7 '11 at 18:56
  • @DJClayworth but generally (and I acccept this is not universal) expenses a company pays an employee are tax deductible/not taxed. Oct 3 '17 at 6:59

Disclaimer: My answer is based on US tax law, but I assume Australian situation would be similar.

The IRS would not be likely to believe your statement that "I wouldn't have gone to the country if it wasn't for the conference." A two-week vacation, with a two-day conference in there, certainly looks like you threw in the conference in order to deduct vacation expenses. At the very least, you would need a good reason why this conference is necessary to your business.

If you can give that reason, it would then depend on the specifics of Australian law. The vacation is clearly not just incidental to the trip.

The registration for the conference is always claimable as a business expense.

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