Show download pdf controls
  • Exceptions for keeping overtime meal expense records

    If you receive an overtime meal allowance and claim a deduction for those expenses you generally need records. An exception may apply where your expenses are within the reasonable amount the Commissioner publishes.

    On this page

    When the exception applies

    To rely on the exception from record keeping for overtime meal expenses:

    Reasonable amount

    The Commissioner needs to consider the total amount you claim for overtime meal expenses covered by your overtime meal allowance to be reasonable.

    The reasonable amount for overtime meal expenses in the 2021–22 income year is $32.50.

    The reasonable amounts are published each income year, see TD 2021/6 Income tax: what are the reasonable travel and overtime meal allowance expense amounts for the 2021-22 income year?.

    Use the reasonable amount to work out if you can rely on the exception from keeping records.

    The reasonable amount is not an amount you can automatically claim as a deduction. You can still only claim a deduction for the deductible overtime meal expenses that you actually incur.

    You don't need to work out if you can rely on the exception from record keeping, if you don't incur any deductible overtime meal expenses.

    Expenses above the reasonable amount

    If the deduction you claim for your overtime meal expenses is more than the reasonable amount, you must keep records for your whole claim. It is not sufficient to only have records for the amount above the reasonable amount.

    If you incur more than the reasonable amount on your deductible overtime meal expenses, you can choose to either:

    • claim the amount you spent and keep written evidence of your expenses
    • claim less than the reasonable amount and keep fewer records.

    Example: expenses are more than reasonable amount

    Stefan is paid an overtime meal allowance of $18.32 under his industrial award. On his overtime meal break, Stefan goes to a steak house and buys a steak dinner and a cup of coffee. The total of the bill is $48.55, which is higher than the reasonable amount of $32.50 in 2021–22 for an overtime meal.

    Stefan can either:

    • claim up to the reasonable amount and not keep written evidence of his claim
    • keep written evidence to claim the full amount of the overtime meal he buys.
    End of example

    Relying on the exception from keeping records

    To rely on the exception from keeping records, each meal you buy and eat while working overtime, that you receive an overtime meal allowance for, must be less than the reasonable amount.

    If you can rely on the exception from substantiation, you don't need to keep written evidence of your overtime meal expenses.

    Even if you are not required to keep written evidence of your overtime meal expenses, we may check your claim in your tax return. We may also ask you to show how you work out your claim. If we ask, you will need to provide documents that show:

    • when you worked overtime
    • you purchased a meal
    • your overtime meal allowance was paid under an industrial instrument
    • you correctly declared the overtime meal allowance in your tax return.

    You claim for the amount you actually spend, not the reasonable amount.

    Example: overtime meal less than reasonable amount

    Raisa works as a paralegal in a law firm. During the 2021–22 income year, Raisa works overtime one night to complete an urgent task. Raisa receives an overtime meal allowance of $15.94 under her industrial award. The allowance is shown on her income statement and she includes the amount as income in her 2021–22 tax return.

    During the course of performing the overtime duty, Raisa takes a rest break to have a meal and returns to continue her overtime. Raisa spends $20 on her meal.

    The reasonable amount for overtime meal expenses in the 2021–22 income year is $32.50.

    Raisa can claim a deduction in her 2021–22 tax return for the $20 she spent without keeping written evidence because she:

    • incurs a deductible overtime meal expense
    • was paid an overtime meal allowance by her employer
    • is claiming less than the reasonable amount for her overtime meal expense.

    Although Raisa is not required to keep written evidence, she will still need to show:

    • how she calculated her total deduction at the end of the year
    • that she included the overtime meal allowance in her income tax return.
    End of example
    Last modified: 21 Mar 2022QC 68179