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  • Truck drivers – income and work-related deductions

    If you earn your income as an employee truck driver, this guide will help you work out what:

    • income and allowances to report
    • you can and can't claim as a work-related deduction
    • records you need to keep.

    When we say:

    • 'truck', we mean a large and heavy vehicle used for transporting articles or goods
    • 'local driver', we mean a driver who usually travels within a city or town and sleeps at home after completing their work
    • 'short-haul driver', we mean a driver who usually travels between cities and towns but returns home to sleep after completing their work
    • 'long-haul driver', we mean a driver who sleeps away from home, as a long rest break is mandatory as part of their work.

    Find out about truck drivers':

    Income – salary and allowances

    Include all the income you receive as a truck driver during the income year in your tax return, this includes:

    Don't include reimbursements.

    Your income statement or payment summary shows all your salary, wages and allowances for the income year.

    Salary and wages

    You must include your salary and wages as income in your tax return. Include any bonuses.

    Allowances

    Include all allowances shown on your income statement or payment summary as income in your tax return.

    While all allowances you receive from your employer are income, you can't always claim a deduction if you receive an allowance – it depends on the situation.

    If you can claim a deduction, the amount of the deduction is not usually the same amount as the allowance you receive.

    Allowance types, reasons and deductibility

    Reason for allowance

    Example of allowance type

    Deduction (Yes or No)

    Compensation for an aspect of your work that is unpleasant, special or dangerous

    Working in forests

    No

    These allowances don't help you pay for deductible work-related expenses

    Compensation for industry peculiarities

    Weekend and holiday shifts

    No

    These allowances don't help you pay for deductible work-related expenses

    An amount for certain expenses

    Overtime meal allowance

    Yes

    If you incur deductible expenses

    An amount for special skills

    A first aid certificate

    Yes

    If you incur deductible expenses

     

    Example: allowance assessable, no deduction

    Mario is an employee truck driver. His duties require him to cart, load and unload manure. Mario's employer pays him an allowance of 51 cents per hour and shows the total allowance on his income statement.

    Mario must include the allowance as income in his tax return.

    Mario can't claim a deduction because he doesn't incur any deductible expenses. The allowance compensates Mario for working in unpleasant conditions.

    End of example

     

    Example: allowance assessable, deduction allowed

    Bronwyn is an employee truck driver. During the income year, Bronwyn uses her own vehicle to travel from the depot to head office to attend training and meetings. Bronwyn's employer pays her 50 cents per kilometre when she uses her car for work purposes.

    At the end of the year, her income statement shows an allowance amount of $160 for using her car for work (320 kms × 50 cents).

    Bronwyn must include the car allowance she receives as income in her tax return.

    Bronwyn can claim a deduction for the cost of using her car for work purposes.

    Bronwyn can't claim the amount of the allowance received. Rather she must calculate the amount of the deduction based on the records she keeps whenever she uses her own car for work purposes.

    In the past year Bronwyn has kept a record of the work trips she did using her own car, but she doesn't keep a logbook. Her records show she used her car to travel 320 kms for work purposes.

    As Bronwyn has not kept a logbook, she uses the cents per kilometre method to claim a deduction. The cents per kilometre method rate for the year is 72 cents per kilometre.

    Bronwyn can claim a deduction of $230 for her car expenses.

    End of example

    Difference between allowances and reimbursements

    An allowance doesn't include a reimbursement.

    If your employer pays you:

    • an amount based on an estimate of what you might spend, such as paying cents per kilometre if you use your car for work, then it is an allowance
    • for the actual amount of the expense (either before or after you incur the expense), such as paying for the petrol you use if you use your car for work, then it is a reimbursement.

    Allowances not on your income statement or payment summary

    Your employer may not include some allowances on your income statement or payment summary. This can apply to travel allowances and overtime meal allowances paid under an industrial law, award or agreement. You can see these allowances on your payslips.

    If the allowance is not on your income statement or payment summary, and you:

    • spent the whole amount on deductible expenses, you  
      • don't include it as income in your tax return
      • can't claim any deductions for these expenses
    • spent more than your allowance, you  
      • include the allowance as income in your tax return
      • claim a deduction for your expense, if you are eligible.

    Reimbursements

    If your employer pays you the exact amount for expenses you incur (either before or after you incur them), the payment is a reimbursement. We don't consider a reimbursement to be an allowance.

    If your employer reimburses you for expenses you incur:

    • don't include the reimbursement as income in your tax return
    • you can't claim a deduction for them.

    Find out about truck drivers':

      Last modified: 16 May 2022QC 21635