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  • Overtime meal expenses

    Generally meals, snacks and drinks you buy and consume are a private expense for which you cannot claim a deduction.

    You can claim a deduction for overtime meal expenses provided that:

    • you received a genuine overtime meal allowance from your employer that was paid under an industrial law, award or agreement
    • you have included the amount of the overtime meal allowance as income at item 2 on your income tax return, and
    • if your claim was more than the reasonable allowance amount, you have written evidence, such as receipts or diary entries, that shows the cost of the meals.

    Any amount for overtime meals that has been included as part of your normal salary or wages (for example, under a workplace agreement) is not considered to be an overtime meal allowance.

    You must include the allowance you received on your tax return if you:

    • have an overtime meal allowance shown on your payment summary
    • are claiming a deduction and the allowance is not shown on your payment summary
    • received an allowance in excess of the reasonable allowance amount.

    We set the reasonable allowance amount for your circumstances in an annual taxation determination that explains:

    • when you do not need evidence of your expenses
    • the way in which you can claim your overtime meal expenses.

    Example 15

    Derek was employed by ABC carpenters for a major job involving a fit-out of a shopping centre. He was required to work overtime for 10 days. Derek was paid a bona fide overtime meal allowance of $28.80 for each night he worked overtime equivalent to the reasonable rate set by us.

    Derek was happy to spend $14.00 each time on a takeaway meal. At the end of the income year his payment summary showed he received $288 in allowances which represented the 10 overtime days × $28.80.

    In his tax return, Derek correctly showed the $288 allowance at item 2 Allowances, earnings, tips, directors fees etc. At D5 Other work-related expenses he claimed deductions of $14.00 × 10 = $140. This is the amount he had actually spent on his overtime meals.

    The difference of $148 ($288 − $140) will be included as taxable income on Derek’s tax assessment.

    End of example

    The receipt of an overtime meal allowance does not automatically entitle you to a deduction. Only the actual amount incurred on work-related overtime meal allowance expenses can be claimed.

    You claim overtime meal expenses at D5 Other work-related expenses on your tax return.

    If the overtime meal allowance is not shown on your payment summary and was not more than the reasonable allowance amount in the relevant income year, you do not have to show it on your tax return as long as you:

    • spent the entire allowance on expenses for which you can claim a deduction
    • are not claiming a deduction for overtime meals.

    See also:

    • For the 2016–17 reasonable allowance amounts, see TD 2016/13 Income tax: what are the reasonable travel and overtime meal allowance expense amounts for the 2016–17 income year?

    Read this determination together with

    • TR 2004/6 Income tax: substantiation exception for reasonable travel and overtime meal allowance expenses.

    Keeping records of your overtime meal expenses

    When claiming overtime meals that will require substantiation, you should keep the following records to support your claim:

    • receipts, or other written evidence of your expenses
    • diary entries you make to record
      • your small expenses ($10 or less) totalling no more than $200 for which you do not have a receipt
      • expenses you cannot get any kind of evidence for, regardless of the amount (for example, food from a vending machine)
    • evidence of your overtime meal allowance payments, such as
      • payment summaries
      • pay slips
      • a letter from your employer.
      Last modified: 17 Aug 2017QC 24373