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  • Truck drivers – income and work-related deductions

    If you earn your income as an employee truck driver, this information will help you to 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

    Your employer will provide either an income statement or a payment summary that shows all your salary, wages and allowances for the financial year.

    Include all of the income you received during the financial year in your tax return, regardless of when you earned it, including:

    Don't include reimbursements.

    Salary and wages

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

    See also:

    Allowances

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

    You may receive an allowance to:

    • compensate you for an aspect of your work, for example, carrying unpleasant or dangerous goods
    • help you to pay for certain expenses such as meals in connection with overtime you work.

    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 on your payment summary or income statement

    You may receive allowances:

    • for work that may be unpleasant, special or dangerous, such as collecting nappies, butchers bones or fat or for camping out
    • in recognition of holding special skills, such as first-aid certification or rear-end steering
    • to compensate for industry peculiarities, such as for weekend or holiday expenses.

    These payments don't cover you for expenses you might incur. You may also receive allowances to cover expenses that you might incur, such as overtime meals.

    Include these allowances as income. If you receive an allowance from your employer, you aren't always entitled to a deduction – it depends on the situation. See Deductions.

    Allowances not on your payment summary or income statement

    Your employer may not include some allowances on your payment summary or income statement. 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 pay slips.

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

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

    Example – travel allowance not on your payment summary

    Juan travelled away from home for four nights to deliver goods. His employer paid travel allowance of $50 to cover his food and drink for each night that Juan was away (a total of $200 for the journey). His employer recorded the allowance on Juan's pay slip but was not required to put it on his payment summary.

    Juan spent the whole $200 on food and drink while travelling away from home for work, so he:

    • didn't include the amount as income in his tax return
    • didn't claim any deductions for the amounts he spent on food and drink.
    End of example

    See also:

    Reimbursements

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

    If you're reimbursed for expenses you incur:

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

    Example – allowance or reimbursement

    Troy had to meet another truck driver 20km away from the depot due to the driver having to take a mandatory long rest break. Troy met the other truck driver and drove the truck, while the other driver returned to the depot in the car.

    Troy had to pay to go through a bridge toll to meet the other driver. Troy’s employer paid him for the amount of the bridge toll he incurred.

    The amount Troy receives from his employer to cover the cost of the bridge toll is a reimbursement, so he:

    • doesn't include the reimbursement as income in his tax return
    • can't claim a deduction for the cost of the bridge toll.
    End of example

    Find out about truck drivers':

      Last modified: 08 Mar 2019QC 21635