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  • Record keeping

    You need to get and keep records of your expenses for which you want to claim deductions. This is usually a receipt but can be another form of written evidence (such as an invoice).

    Records can be electronic (for example, you can take a photo of your receipt, or use an app). The my Deductions tool in the ATO app, can help you to keep track of your work-related expenses. It’s an easy way to capture information on-the-go, making tax time quicker by uploading your deductions to your tax return. If you use a tax agent they can access your uploaded data through their practice management software or you can email a copy to them from the app.

    Records must show what you purchased, when, where, and how much you spent. They must be in English.

    There are a few exceptions to this rule:

    Small expense receipts

    You don’t have to get and keep a receipt for work-related expenses that are $10 or less, as long as your total claim for small expenses is $200 or less.

    If you don’t get a receipt for small expenses you can still claim a deduction as long as you make a record of the small expenses. For example, you can make a record by writing in your diary.

    Your record should show what you purchased, when, where, and how much you spent. It must be in English. You can use this to show how you calculated your deduction if we request this information from you.

    Hard to get receipts

    If you can’t get a receipt for a work-related expense, you can still claim a deduction as long as you make a record. For example, you can make a record by writing in your diary.

    Your record should show what you purchased, when, where, and how much you spent. It must be in English. You can use this to show how you calculated your deduction if we request this information from you.

    Overtime meal expense receipts

    You can claim a deduction for your overtime meal expenses (food and drink) without keeping all your receipts if you:

    • undertake overtime
    • receive an overtime meal allowance paid under an industrial law or award
    • spent money on meals (food and drink) you consumed during your overtime meal break
    • are not claiming more than the reasonable amount we set – see, factory workers' Overtime meal expenses.

    Even if you aren't required to get and keep receipts for your overtime meal expenses, we may check your tax return and ask you to show how you calculated your claim. If we ask, you'll need to provide documentation showing:

    • when you did overtime
    • you purchased a meal
    • you correctly declared the overtime meal allowance as income in your tax return.

    If you don’t receive an overtime meal allowance paid under an industrial law or award, or are claiming a deduction for more than the reasonable amount, you need to get and keep your receipts for your overtime meal expenses.

    You claim what you actually spent, not the reasonable amount.

    See also:

    • Overtime meals
    • TD 2019/11 Income tax: what are the reasonable travel and overtime amounts for the 2019–20 income year?

    Travel and meal expense receipts

    You can claim a deduction for your accommodation, meal (food and drink) and incidental expenses without keeping all your receipts if your travel is for six nights or less and you:

    • receive a travel allowance that's expected to cover your accommodation and meal expenses when travelling (a token amount you receive as a travel allowance isn't accepted as covering such costs)
    • spent money on meals (food and drink) while travelling away from home overnight for work
    • are not claiming more than the reasonable amount – see factory workers Travel expenses.

    Even if you aren't required to get and keep receipts for your meals when travelling for work, we may check your tax return and ask you to show how you calculated your claim. If we ask, you'll need to provide documentation showing:

    • when you were travelling for work (including start and finish times)
    • you paid for accommodation and purchased meals or incidentals and the amount you spent
    • you correctly declared the travel allowance as income in your tax return.

    You will need to maintain and keep all of your records for travel expenses if you're in one of the following situations:

    • you didn’t get a travel allowance
    • you received a travel allowance and your claim exceeds the reasonable allowance amount.

    The records you need to keep for fares, accommodation, food, drink and incidentals depend on the length of your trip and if it is domestic or international.

    If you travel for six or more nights in a row, you may need to keep a travel diary in which you record the dates, places, times and duration of your activities and travel.

    You don’t need to keep a travel diary if your travel away from home is less than six nights in a row.

    If you are required to maintain and keep records, the records you keep may include:

    • income statement, payment summary or payslips to show the travel allowances you received
    • a travel diary, or documentation that shows the days you travelled for work, including  
      • start and finish times
      • where you travelled
       
    • all receipts, invoices or documentation for accommodation, meals and incidentals showing the  
      • name of the supplier
      • amount you spent
      • nature of the good or service
      • date you spent the money
      • creation date of the receipt or other written evidence
       
    • written evidence, such as a bank statement, to show that you were the one who spent the money.

    You claim what you actually spent, not the reasonable amount.

    See also:

    Find out about factory workers':

      Last modified: 09 Jan 2020QC 51225