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  • Transport expenses – trips between home and work and between workplaces

    Find out when you can and can't claim for transport expenses between home and work and between workplaces.

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    Transport expenses

    You can't claim a deduction for normal trips between your home and regular place of work. However, you can claim transport expenses you incur for trips between workplaces.

    Transport expenses can include the cost of:

    • driving your car or other vehicle (such as a motorcycle)
    • ride-share and ride-sourcing (such as Uber, Hi Oscar, Shebah or GoCatch)
    • flights
    • catching a train, taxi, boat, bus or other vehicle.

    Transport expenses you can't claim

    You can't claim a deduction for the cost of normal trips between your home and regular place of work. You don't incur the expenses in the course of performing your work duties. These expenses also put you in the position to start work and are private.

    You can't claim trips between your home and regular place of work even if you:

    • live a long way from your regular place of work
    • work outside normal business hours – for example, shift work or overtime
    • do minor work-related tasks – for example, picking up the mail on the way to your regular place of work or home
    • go between your home and your regular place of work more than once a day
    • are on call – for example, you are on stand-by duty and your employer contacts you at home to come into work
    • have no public transport near where you work
    • do some work at home
    • work from your home where you run your own business and you travel directly to a place of work where you work for somebody else.

    If your travel is partly private, you can only claim a deduction for the transport expenses you incur in the course of performing your work duties.

    Example: travel between home and work not deductible

    Tim works at his local cinema. His shift often finishes late into the night. The only available bus doesn't operate past 7:00pm so Tim has to drive to and from work.

    The cost Tim incurs to drive to work is not deductible as it is private in nature. This is because Tim incurs the cost to put him in the position to earn his employment income.

    End of example

     

    Example: working from home – travel to regular place of work not deductible

    Ravi works in in the accounts department of a large retail chain. At the end of each month, Ravi's workload increases. To keep on top of his work, Ravi does some work at home before he goes into the office or when he gets home from the office in the evening.

    Ravi can't claim a deduction for the expenses he incurs when he travels between his home and the office on these occasions.

    Ravi works at home for convenience and he doesn't incur the cost of travelling from his home to the office in the course of performing his work duties. He incurs the expenses to be in the position to start work. The travel costs are a private expense.

    End of example

     

    Example: travel between home and work while on stand-by duty, outside business hours and when no public transport is available not deductible

    Nadena is a registered nurse and she works at a hospital. During a typical fortnight, Nadena has 9 shifts and one stand-by shift. If another nurse calls in sick when Nadena is on standby duty she may be called in to work that shift.

    The on-call shift may be for a night shift, early morning shift or a day shift depending on her roster cycle.

    Nadena can't claim a deduction for travel between her home and the hospital when she is called into work while she is on stand-by duty.

    She incurs the expense in travelling from her home to the hospital, not in the course of performing her work duties. The travel costs are a private expense. This will be the case regardless of whether the shift is outside normal business hours or when there is no public transport available.

    End of example

     

    Example: travel from home to a distant regular work location not deductible

    Aldo lives in North Queensland with his family. He is an employee on a long-term project in Sydney. His employment contract indicates that his place of work is the office on the project site in Sydney. As Aldo lives in North Queensland and he only needs to be physically on site during certain stages of the project, Aldo has an informal agreement with his employer to work from home whenever he is not required on site.

    When it is necessary for Aldo to be on site, he is generally at the project site for no longer than 2 weeks at a time. When Aldo needs to be on site, he flies to Sydney at his own expense.

    The project site in Sydney is Aldo's regular place of work and he can't claim a deduction for the cost of travelling from North Queensland to Sydney.

    Aldo doesn't incur the transport expenses in the course of performing his work duties. He incurs the expenses to put him in the position to start work. The travel costs are also private because Aldo chooses to live in North Queensland and work in Sydney.

    End of example

    Transport expenses you can claim

    You can claim the transport costs you incur when travelling:

    • directly between 2 separate places of work – for example, when you have a second job (if one of these places isn't your home)
    • from your  
      • regular place of work to an alternative place of work that isn't a regular place of work (for example, a client's premises) while still on duty, and back to your regular place of work or directly home
      • home to an alternative place of work that isn't a regular place of work to perform your duties, and then to your regular place of work or directly home (this doesn't apply where the alternative place of work has become a regular workplace).

    Example: travel between two separate workplaces deductible

    Aaron works part time at a supermarket, he also works part time as a house cleaner. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, Aaron drives his car directly from his job at the supermarket to his regular cleaning clients.

    As the trip is between 2 separate places of work, neither of which is Aaron's home, he can claim a deduction for the transport expenses he incurs in respect of that trip.

    End of example

     

    Example: travel to an alternative place of work deductible

    Brock works for a large company with 2 offices in Melbourne. He usually works from the city location but occasionally he is required to attend training at the office in Box Hill. When Brock travels to the Box Hill office, he catches a tram.

    Brock can claim a deduction for the cost of the tram for the trips between the Melbourne office and Box Hill office as it is an alternative place of work.

    However, if Brock works from the city location every Monday to Thursday and from the Box Hill office every Friday as a standard arrangement, then the city location is his regular place of work every Monday to Thursday and the Box Hill office is his regular place of work every Friday. Brock can't claim a deduction for his travel between his home and either of his regular places of work.

    End of example

    In the following circumstances, you can claim a deduction for transport expenses you incur for trips between your home and your regular place of work:

    • if your home was a base of employment, that is, where:  
      • you're required to start your employment duties at home then travel to your regular place of work to complete those particular duties
      • undertaking the work in two locations is necessary due to the nature of the employment duties
      • the travel to your regular place of work isn't part of a normal trip to work that would have occurred anyway.
    • you are itinerant or have shifting places of work – for example, you have no fixed place of work and regularly work at more than one site each day before returning home
    • where you need to carry bulky tools or equipment and all the following conditions are met:  
      • the tools or equipment are essential to perform your employment duties
      • the tools or equipment are bulky, meaning that  
        • because of the size and weight, they are awkward to transport
        • they can only be transported conveniently using a motor vehicle
      • there is no secure storage for such items at the workplace
      • you don't transport the tools or equipment as a matter of choice (for example, if your employer provides secure storage and you choose to take the tools home instead).

    Watch: Transporting bulky tools and equipment

    Media: Transporting bulky tools and equipment
    http://tv.ato.gov.au/ato-tv/media?v=bd1bdiubx7d1ysExternal Link (Duration: 00:52)

     

    Example: home is base of employment travel deductible

    Tom is the IT Security Director of a data storage company. He is on call 24 hours a day to be notified of a security breach. His employer installs a secure terminal so he can work from home if he receives a call out of hours. Normally, Tom would provide advice over the phone to the staff on site, and sometimes he would log into the secure terminal at his home to correct the issue.

    At times, Tom needs to drive into head office out of hours so he can resolve the issue on site. On those occasions, when he starts working from the home terminal but is then required to drive into work to resolve the issue, the transport expenses he incurs for this journey are deductible, as his home becomes a base of employment. However, his regular daily trip into work is not deductible.

    End of example

     

    Example: travel to place of work carrying bulky equipment deductible

    Masahito is an employee of the orchestra where he plays double bass. The orchestra plays in a number of locations and he often travels directly from home to the various venues. He practices regularly at home, which is also the only place available to store his instrument when not being used.

    When the double bass is in its case, it is over 2 metres tall and 75 cm wide and is awkward to transport. Masahito can claim a deduction for the car expenses he incurs for travel between home and his workplaces.

    The need to transport his cumbersome double bass by car to the different workplaces means that the journeys are not ordinary home to work travel.

    End of example

     

    Example: travel to a regular place of work carrying bulky tools not deductible

    Merinda works as a fitter and turner on a mine site. She drives to the mine site each work day. Her work depot is surrounded by a fence and people need to come through a security gate to get on to the premises. There is a building supplied for staff to store their tools when not on duty. The staff have their own personal tool lockers which have combination locks.

    Merinda requires a number of tools to do her job, so her toolkit is large and heavy. Although there is room to store the toolkit in her locker, she takes it home every day.

    Although her toolkit would be considered bulky, Merinda has a secure place to store it at the work depot and it is her personal decision to transport them between home and work each day.

    There is no practical need to transport bulky toolkit between home and her regular place of work, and so the daily trips remain ordinary private journeys. She can't claim a deduction for her car expenses.

    End of example

    Itinerant or shifting places of work

    If you do itinerant work (or have shifting places of work) you can claim transport expenses you incur for trips between your places of work and your home.

    The following factors may indicate you do itinerant work:

    • Travel is a fundamental part of your work, as the very nature of your work, not just because it is convenient to you or your employer.
    • You have a 'web' of workplaces you travel to, throughout the day, that is, you have no fixed place of work.
    • You continually travel from one work site to another.
    • Your home is a base of operations – if you start your duties at home and you can't complete those specific duties until you attend your work site.
    • You are often uncertain of the location of your work site.
    • Your employer provides an allowance in recognition of your need to travel continually between different work sites and you use this allowance to pay for your travel.

    It is important to also note that the obligation to incur the transport expenses must arise from the nature of your employment duties. If the travel is merely a matter of convenience for you or your employer it will be private travel and the transport expenses you incur will not be deductible.

    Example: work that is not itinerant

    Chloe is a substitute teacher, who travels to different schools when teachers are away. She sometimes attends a school for just one day, and at other times for a few weeks.

    Chloe is not carrying out itinerant work. While she may not know where she is going to work each day, she will only ever work at one location for the day. She can't claim a deduction for the cost of the transport between home and work.

    End of example

     

    Example: work that is itinerant

    Mitchell works as an apprentice roof tiler and is dispatched to various sites each day. He travels to the first location from his home and returns home at the end of the day from the last site at which he has worked. Mitchell is carrying out itinerant work as he is travelling between sites all day and can claim a deduction for the transport expenses he incurs when he travels between home and work each day.

    Mitchell can also claim the cost of his transport for trips between each site during the day. However, if Mitchell only attended one site and worked there for several days until the job was finished, he would not be carrying out itinerant work.

    End of example

    Keeping records for transport expenses

    For all transport expenses, you must keep both:

    • a record of any transport allowance you receive and
    • evidence that you have included the allowance as income in your tax return.

    The records you need to keep for your transport expenses depends on the transport expenses you incur.

    For transport expenses, other than car and similar vehicle expenses, the records you must keep include:

    • an explanation of how the transport was work-related
    • travel movements and activities such as    
      • where you were
      • what you were doing
      • the start and end times for activities
    • records, such as receipts, for the cost of fares for air, bus, train, tram and taxi or rideshare travel, bridge and road tolls, parking and car-hire fees.

    If you claim transport expenses for a vehicle you own that doesn't meet the definition of a car, such as a motorcycle or vehicle designed to carry a load of greater than one tonne or more than 9 passengers, you must keep:

    • written evidence that you own the vehicle
    • records setting out similar details to a logbook to show how you calculate your work-related use percentage of the vehicle
    • written evidence of your expenses such as fuel, repairs, maintenance, registration and insurance
    • written evidence of the purchase price of the vehicle if you are claiming the decline in value of it.

    If your transport expenses are car expenses, the records you need to keep depend on the method you choose to claim your expenses.

    If you claim your car expenses using the cents per kilometre method, you must keep:

    • written evidence that you own the car
    • an explanation of how the kilometres for trips you claim are work-related
    • records to show how you work out your business kilometres.

    If you claim your car expenses using the logbook method, you must keep:

    • written evidence that you own the car
    • a valid logbook for a car
    • odometer records for the period you held the car during the income year – for example if you held the car for the whole income year you must keep the odometer reading on 1 July and on 30 June
    • written evidence of all of your car expenses such as fuel, repairs, maintenance, registration and insurance
    • written evidence of the purchase price of the car if you are claiming the car's decline in value.

    You must keep written evidence of the actual expenses you incur when driving that car for work-related purposes (such as fuel) to claim transport expenses for a car you don't own, that is someone else's car.

    Last modified: 29 Jun 2022QC 31983