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  • Work-related overnight travel expenses

    You can claim a deduction for overnight travel expenses you pay where:

    • your employer requires you to do your work away from home
    • you are required to sleep away from home for one or more nights in the course of doing the work, and
    • you are not living away from home.

    Overnight travel expenses include meals, accommodation and incidental expenses

    Keeping records of your overnight travel expenses

    If you wish to claim meal, accommodation and incidental expenses you incurred while away overnight for work, use the following table to determine what evidence you need. You can claim a deduction for the amount you spent on overnight travel expenses without keeping all your records if:

    • you receive a travel allowance that could reasonably be expected to cover your accommodation, meals or expenses incidental to the travel (a token amount paid as a travel allowance is not accepted as reasonably covering such costs)
    • your overnight travel expenses were equal to or less than the reasonable allowance amount we set.

    However, we may ask you to explain how you worked out the amount you claimed.

    See also:

    Definitions

    A travel diary is a document in which you record the dates, places, times and duration of your activities and travel.

    Written evidence includes:

    • invoices, receipts or other documents showing your travel expense details. If it is too difficult to get a receipt for a meal you purchased – for example, if you purchase a meal from a vending machine – you can keep diary entries as your proof of purchase
    • other documents (such as diary entries) for bus, train, tram and taxi fares, bridge and road tolls and parking fees.

    Evidence you need to claim

    If you did not receive a travel allowance

     

    Domestic travel

    Overseas travel

    Written evidence

    Travel diary

    Written evidence

    Travel diary

    Travel less than 6 nights in a row

    Yes

    No

    Yes

    No

    Travel 6 or more nights in a row

    Yes

    Yes

    Yes

    Yes

    If you received a travel allowance and your claim does not exceed the reasonable allowance amount

     

    Domestic travel

    Overseas travel

    Written evidence

    Travel diary

    Written evidence

    Travel diary

    Travel less than 6 nights in a row

    No

    No

    No

    No

    Travel 6 or more nights in a row

    No

    No

    No

    Yes

    If you received a travel allowance and your claim exceeds the reasonable allowance amount

     

    Domestic travel

    Overseas travel

    Written evidence

    Travel diary

    Written evidence

    Travel diary

    Travel less than 6 nights in a row

    Yes

    No

    Yes

    No

    Travel 6 or more nights in a row

    Yes

    Yes

    Yes

    Yes

    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 overnight travel expenses.

    To find out the reasonable travel and overtime meal allowance amount, refer to:

    The receipt of a travel allowance does not mean that you can automatically claim the reasonable allowance amount set out in the annual taxation determination. You can only claim the amount you actually spend on accommodation, meals and incidental expenses.

    Example 8

    Derek works for a national company. His employer provides him with an accommodation allowance that covers the costs of his accommodation when he travels interstate for work. Derek does not receive an allowance for meals or incidental expenses.

    The amount Derek claims as a deduction for the accommodation costs he pays is less than the reasonable allowance amount – this means he can only claim the amount he spent on accommodation and he does not have to keep records of his accommodation expenses. However, he does have to keep records and other written evidence to support any deductions he claims for his meals and incidental expenses.

    End of example

    Meal expenses

    Generally, meals, snacks and drinks you buy and consume are private expenses and not deductible. However, there are certain situations where you may be able to claim a deduction for meal costs. These are:

    • overtime meals consumed at work
    • meals when travelling away from home overnight for work.

    Overtime meals

    Any amount for overtime meals that have 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 can claim a deduction for overtime meal expenses if:

    • 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 tax return
    • you have written evidence that shows the cost of the meals, such as receipts or diary entries, if your claim was more than the reasonable allowance amount.

    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, or
    • 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.

    To find out the reasonable travel and overtime meal allowance amount, refer to TD 2016/13 - Income tax: what are the reasonable travel and overtime meal allowance expense amounts for the 2016-17 income year?

    The receipt of an overtime meal allowance does not mean that you can automatically claim the reasonable allowance amount set out in the annual taxation determination. You can only claim the amount you actually spend on overtime meal expenses.

    Example 9

    Terry was employed by a large earthmoving company for a major job involving the excavation of a transit tunnel. He was required to work overtime for 10 days.

    Terry was paid a bona fide overtime meal allowance of $29.40 for each night he worked overtime, equivalent to the 2016–17 income year reasonable rate set by the Commissioner of Taxation.

    Terry 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 $294.00 in allowances – this represented the 10 overtime days × $29.40.

    In his tax return, Terry correctly showed the $294 in allowance at item 2, and at D5 Other work-related expenses he claimed deductions of $14.00 × 10 = $140 (the amount he had actually spent on his overtime meals).

    End of example

    Meals when travelling overnight

    You may be able to claim a deduction for the cost of meals when travelling overnight for work. Even if you receive a travel allowance from your employer to cover the cost of meals, you cannot automatically claim a deduction for work-related meal expenses.

    You can only claim a deduction for travel-related meal expenses where:

    • you are required to sleep away from home for one or more nights in the course of performing your work duties
    • you are not living away from home.

    Allowances

    The most common allowances paid to an employee earthmoving plant operator are:

    • travel allowance
    • living-away-from-home allowance
    • overtime meal allowance (see Meal expenses).

    A travel allowance is an amount you receive to cover your accommodation, meals and expenses incidental to your work-related travel.

    A living-away-from-home allowance is different from a travel allowance. Living-away-from-home allowance is paid to cover your additional accommodation and meal costs when you are temporarily required to live away from your usual place of residence in order to perform your duties of employment. A living-away-from-home allowance is not income and you cannot claim a deduction for your expenses.

    Example 10

    Marco is required by his employer to work in Newcastle for 12 months to help excavate a site for construction. For the duration of this job, his immediate family continues to live at home in Sydney, where he returns every weekend. Marco is considered to be living away from his usual place of residence.

    End of example

    If your travel allowance is not shown on your payment summary and was not more than the reasonable allowance amount, you do not have to show it on your tax return if you:

    • spent the entire allowance on deductible expenses
    • are not claiming the deduction.

    Otherwise, you must show the allowance on your tax return.

      Last modified: 14 Aug 2017QC 24380