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  • Common expenses A–F

    Details on claiming common train driver expenses for:

    Car expenses

    You can't claim a deduction for normal trips between your home and work. These are private expenses, even if you:

    • live a long way from your usual workplace
    • have to work outside normal business hours (for example, weekend or early morning shifts).

    In limited circumstances, you can claim the cost of trips between home and work, such as where you carry bulky tools or equipment for work or where you had shifting places of employment.

    To be able to claim a deduction for the cost of trips between home and work while carrying bulky tools or equipment, all the following conditions must be 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, and
      • can only be transported conveniently using a motor vehicle
    • there is no secure storage for such items at the workplace.

    It will not be sufficient if you transport the tools or equipment merely as a matter of choice. For example, if your employer provides reasonably secure storage, your decision to transport items home will be a matter of choice.

    You are considered to have shifting places of work where you have no fixed place of work and you continually travel from one work site to another.

    You can also claim a deduction for the cost of using a car you own, lease or hire (under a hire-purchase agreement) when you drive:

    • between separate jobs on the same day – for example, travelling from your first job as a train driver directly to your second job as a safety instructor
    • to and from an alternate workplace for the same employer on the same day – for example, travelling between depots or train stations for your employer.

    You can't claim car expenses for a car you use under a salary sacrifice or novated lease arrangement. This is because it's usually your employer leasing the car from the financing company and making it available for your use. You can however claim additional work-related expenses you incur that are associated with your work use of the car such as parking and tolls.

    To claim a deduction, you must keep records of your car use. You can choose between the logbook method or the cents per kilometre method to work out your deduction.

    If you use the logbook method, you need to keep a valid logbook to help you work out the percentage of work-related use along with written evidence of your car expenses.

    If you use the cents per kilometre method, you need to be able to show how you work out your work-related kilometres. You must be able to show that the kilometres travelled were work-related.

    To claim a deduction in your tax return, include the amount of your claim at ‘Work-related car expenses’. The Work-related car expenses calculator can help you work out the amount you can claim as a deduction.

    You can’t use the cents per kilometre or logbook method to work out your claim for a:

    • motorcycle
    • vehicle with a carrying capacity of one tonne or more (such as a ute)
    • vehicle that can transport nine passengers or more (such as a people mover).

    For these vehicles, you can claim the actual expenses you incur for your work-related travel. This includes costs such as fuel, oil, insurance and loan interest along with the decline in value of the vehicle. You must keep receipts for all your expenses and records to show your work-related use of the vehicle. The easiest way to do this is to keep a logbook or documents that provide similar details to a logbook.

    To claim a deduction for actual expenses you incur for a vehicle not defined as a car, include the amount at ‘Work-related travel expenses’.

    Example: no deduction for home to work travel

    William is a long-haul train driver. For each shift, he drives his own car to work and parks it in a secure parking centre. He wears his train driver uniform to work but carries a duffel bag containing a change of clothes, a pair of sneakers as well as his lunch and a drink bottle.

    William can't claim expenses that he incurs for driving his car from home to work as the bag and its contents are not considered bulky. The costs of travelling between home and work are private expenses.

    End of example

    For more detailed information, see:

    See also:

    Child care

    You can't claim a deduction for the cost of child care (including school holidays and before and after school care) when you're working. It's a private expense, and the expenses have no direct connection to earning your income.

    Clothing and uniform expenses (including footwear)

    With a few exceptions, clothing is a private expense. You can't claim conventional clothing (including footwear) as a work-related expense, even if your employer requires you to wear it and you only wear these at work.

    'Conventional clothing' is everyday clothing worn by people regardless of their occupation – for example, jeans, polo shirts or sneakers worn by train drivers.

    You can claim a deduction for costs you incur to buy, hire, repair or replace clothing, uniforms and footwear you wear at work if it's in one of the following categories:

    • protective clothing
    • occupation specific clothing
    • a compulsory uniform, that your employer strictly and consistently enforces you wear by workplace agreement or policy and distinctly identifies either
      • you as an employee working for a particular employer
      • the products or services your employer provides
    • a non-compulsory uniform, that your employer listed on the Register of Approved Occupational Clothing with AusIndustry.

    Protective clothing you wear to protect yourself from specific risks of injury or illness at work. The clothing must have protective features or functions (for example, steel-capped boots, fire-resistant clothing, or boiler suits that protect conventional clothing). Conventional clothes you wear at work are not regarded as protective clothing if they lack protective qualities designed for the risks of your work. This includes jeans, drill shirts, shorts, trousers, socks, closed shoes.

    Occupation specific clothing that distinctly identifies you as a person associated with a particular profession, trade or occupation (for example, a judge's robes or a chef's chequered pants). Items traditionally worn in a profession are not occupation-specific where the clothing is worn by multiple professions.

    You can't claim a deduction if your employer buys, repairs or replaces your clothing.

    Example: compulsory uniform supplied by employer

    Thomas is a train driver. His employer requires him to wear a uniform comprising of a white business shirt and dark grey business pants both with the rail logo embroidered on them. The uniform was provided to Thomas as part of his induction pack at no cost to him. If the uniform is damaged, his employer will replace or repair it.

    Thomas can't claim a deduction for the cost of buying or repairing his compulsory uniform as he doesn't incur any expenses.

    End of example

     

    Example: compulsory uniform with logo

    Mikaela is required to buy and wear polo shirts with her employer's company logo embroidered on them. The employee guidelines include a requirement to wear professional black pants or a skirt and black shoes.

    Mikaela can claim a deduction for the cost of buying the logoed shirts as they are a compulsory uniform (distinctive items with her employer's logo and compulsory for her to wear at work).

    She can't claim a deduction for the cost of buying her black pants or skirt and shoes as they are conventional clothes. Even though her employer requires her to wear a specific colour, they are not distinctive enough to make them part of her uniform and are still conventional.

    End of example

    See also:

    Compulsory assessments

    You can claim a deduction for compulsory assessments and medical examinations your employer requires you to take in your current employment. For example, a fitness to drive assessment.

    You can’t claim a deduction for compulsory pre-employment assessments and medical examinations you take to obtain employment as a train driver. For example, a fitness to drive assessment you need to pass as a condition of employment.

    Example: compulsory assessment you can't claim

    Ros was interviewed for a new job as a train driver in regional NSW and is offered the position, subject to a condition. The condition was that, before commencing work, Ros must get a pre-employment medical assessment done and then provide the medical report to her employer. The assessment and report cost Ros $125.

    Ros can't claim a deduction for this assessment and report, as it's a requirement for him to have this assessment to gain employment as a bus driver.

    End of example

    Driver's licence

    You can't claim a deduction for the cost to get or renew your driver's licence, even if you must have it as a condition of employment. This is a private expense.

    You can claim a deduction for additional costs you incur to get a special licence or condition on your licence to perform your work duties. For example, the cost you incur to get a heavy vehicle permit.

    Entertainment and social functions

    You can't claim a deduction for the cost of any entertainment, fundraising or social functions. This applies even if they are compulsory, non-compulsory or you discuss business matters at the event. Entertainment and social functions include the cost of:

    • business breakfasts, lunches or dinners
    • attendance at sporting events
    • gala or social nights
    • concerts or dances
    • cocktail parties
    • other similar types of functions or events.

    These are private expenses because these events do not have a direct connection to your income-producing activities.

    You also can’t claim the cost of travelling to and from functions.

    Fines and penalties

    You can't claim a deduction for any fines you get when you travel to work or during work. Fines may include parking and speeding fines or penalties.

    First aid courses

    You can claim a deduction for the cost of first aid training courses if you are both:

    • a designated first aid person
    • need to complete a first aid training course to assist in emergency work situations.

    You can’t claim a deduction if your employer pays for or reimburses you for the cost of the course.

    Example: first aid courses

    Zac is currently employed as a train driver and is a designated first aid person. His employer pays for him to attend a first aid course, so he can assist if there is an emergency situation on his train.

    As Zac's employer has paid for the course, Zac can't claim a deduction.

    Zac could claim a deduction if he was to pay for the first aid course himself and his employer, does not reimburse him for this expense.

    End of example

    For more train driver expenses:

      Last modified: 10 Feb 2021QC 59080