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  • Quarantine expenses when travelling on work

    Expenses for accommodation, food and drink expenses are normally private in nature and not deductible by employees. However, you can claim a deduction for accommodation, food, drink and incidental expenses you incur if you're 'travelling on work' during COVID-19 and must quarantine.

    Travelling on work means that you need to travel to perform your employment duties and must sleep away from your home overnight. If you must quarantine either during or after a trip while travelling on work, this would be an extension of the work-related trip. As such you undertake the quarantine as part of your employment duties.

    If you are not travelling on work, your quarantine expenses are private in nature. No deduction is available for private quarantine expenses.

    You also can't claim a deduction for quarantine expenses you incur when you either:

    • travel to or from a work location and need to quarantine
    • need to quarantine for another purpose (for example, returning from a private holiday), even if you can work from the quarantine location.

    The fact you were working or are able to work from a quarantine location, does not meet the definition of 'travelling on work'.

    If you incur expenses for both work purposes and private purposes, you will need to apportion your expenses. You can only claim the expenses that relate to your work activities.

    Example 1: travelling on work

    Mai was travelling on work for a sales tour of Victoria for three weeks. On her return to Sydney, Mai must quarantine for two weeks in a hotel. As Mai is only travelling to undertake work duties, she can claim a deduction for costs she incurs for her accommodation, food and drink expenses and incidental expenses while in quarantine.

    End of example

     

    Example 2: expenses not connected with work-holiday travel

    Rojesh lives and works in Brisbane, he travels to Sydney for a holiday for two weeks. Sydney was designated a COVID-19 hotspot during his trip. As such, when he returns to Brisbane, he must quarantine for two weeks in a hotel and can't return to work. He pays for his accommodation, food and drink expenses during this two-week period.

    While Rojesh is in quarantine he is able to work using his laptop and kept normal business hours. Even though he is working while in quarantine, Rojesh can't claim a deduction for his accommodation, food and drink expenses. His expenses are private in nature as his travel was not for work purposes.

    End of example

     

    Example 3: returning from overseas working holiday

    Phillip takes a year of his long service leave so that he can live and work in the UK for that period. When his leave comes to an end, he returns to Adelaide.

    When he arrives in Adelaide, he must quarantine for a two-week period in a hotel. While he is in quarantine, Phillip works for his Australian employer using his laptop.

    As Phillip is returning to live in Australia, the expenses he incurs while in quarantine are not as a result of travelling on work. Therefore, his quarantine expenses are private in nature and he can't claim a deduction.

    End of example
    Last modified: 16 Nov 2020QC 64188