You can claim a tax deduction for the cost of transport on trips to:
- perform your work duties – for example, if you travel from your regular place of work to meet with a client
- attend work-related conferences or meetings away from your regular place of work
- deliver items or collect supplies
- go between 2 or more separate places of employment, such as if you have more than one job (but not if one of the places is your home)
- go from your
- regular place of work to an alternative place of work that isn't a regular place of work (for example, a client's premises) while still on duty, and back to your regular place of work or directly home
- home to an alternative place of work that isn't a regular place of work to perform your duties, and then to your regular place of work or directly home (this doesn't apply if the alternative place of work has become a regular workplace).
Example: travel between 2 separate workplaces
Aaron works part time at a supermarket and also works part time as a house cleaner. On Tuesdays Aaron drives his car directly from his job at the supermarket to his regular cleaning clients.
As the trip is between 2 separate places of work, neither of which is Aaron's home, he can claim a deduction for the transport expenses he incurs for that trip.End of example
Example: travel to an alternative place of work
Brock works for a large company with 2 offices in Melbourne. He usually works from the city office but occasionally he's required to attend training at the company's office in Box Hill. When Brock travels to the Box Hill office, he catches a tram at his own expense.
Brock can claim a deduction for the cost of the tram between the Melbourne office and Box Hill office as it's an alternative place of work. He can also claim the cost of any trips between the Box Hill office and his home.
However, if Brock works from the city office every Monday to Thursday and from the Box Hill office every Friday as a standard arrangement, then the city office is his regular place of work every Monday to Thursday and the Box Hill office is his regular place of work every Friday. Brock can't claim a deduction for trips between his home and either of his regular places of work.End of example
You can't claim trips between your home and place of work, except in limited circumstances.
These trips put you in a position to start work and earn income but are not part of performing your work duties. The cost of these trips is a private expense.
This is the case even if you:
- live a long way from your regular place of work
- work outside normal business hours – for example, shift work or overtime
- do minor work-related tasks on the way to work or the way home – for example, picking up the mail
- go between your home and regular place of work more than once a day
- are on call – for example, you are on standby duty and your employer contacts you at home to come into work
- have no public transport near where you work
- do some work at home
- work from your home running your own business and travel directly to a place of work where you work for somebody else.
Example: public transport not available
Tim works at his local cinema. His shift often finishes late into the night. The only available bus doesn't operate past 7:00 pm so Tim has to drive to and from work.
The cost Tim incurs to drive to work is not deductible. This is because Tim incurs the cost to put him in the position to earn his employment income, not in the course of performing his work duties.End of example
Example: working from home and travelling to regular place of work
Ravi works in the accounts department of a large retail chain. At the end of each month, Ravi's workload increases. To keep on top of his work, Ravi does some work at home before he goes into the office or when he gets home from the office in the evening.
Ravi can't claim a deduction for the expenses he incurs when he travels between his home and the office on these occasions.
Ravi works at home for convenience and doesn't incur the cost of travelling from his home to the office in the course of performing his work duties. He incurs the expenses to be in the position to start work. The transport costs are a private expense.End of example
Example: travelling while on standby duty
Nadena is a registered nurse at a hospital. During a typical fortnight, Nadena has 9 shifts and one standby shift. If another nurse calls in sick when Nadena is on standby duty she may be called in to work that shift.
The standby shift may be at night, early morning or during the day, depending on her roster cycle.
Nadena can't claim a deduction for travel between her home and the hospital when she is called into work while she is on standby duty.
She incurs the expense in travelling from her home to the hospital, not in the course of performing her work duties. The transport costs are a private expense. This is the case even if the shift is outside normal business hours or there is no public transport available.End of example
Example: travelling to a distant regular work location
Aldo lives in North Queensland with his family. He is an employee on a long-term project in Sydney. His employment contract states that his place of work is the office on the project site in Sydney.
As Aldo lives in North Queensland and only needs to be physically on site during certain stages of the project, he has an informal agreement with his employer to work from home whenever he's not required on site.
When it's necessary for Aldo to be on site, he's generally at the project site for no longer than 2 weeks at a time. When Aldo needs to be on site, he flies to Sydney at his own expense.
The project site in Sydney is Aldo's regular place of work and he can't claim a deduction for the cost of travelling from North Queensland to Sydney.
Aldo doesn't incur the transport expenses in the course of performing his work duties. He incurs the expenses to put him in the position to start work.
His travel costs to stay in Sydney, such as accommodation and meals, are also private because Aldo chooses to live in North Queensland and work in Sydney.End of example
There are some circumstances where you can claim a deduction for the cost of trips between home and work. You must check that you meet the eligibility conditions:
- Home is a base of employment
- Transporting bulky tools and equipment
- Itinerant or shifting places of work
You may also be able to claim a deduction for a trip that includes an alternative place of work that isn't a regular place of work – see Trips while working and between workplaces.
You can claim a deduction for the cost of a trip from home to your place of work if your home was a base of employment. You must meet all 3 of these conditions:
- You're required to start your employment duties at home then travel to your regular place of work to complete those particular duties.
- Undertaking the work in 2 locations is necessary due to the nature of your employment duties.
- The trip to your regular place of work isn't part of a normal trip to work that would have occurred anyway.
Example: home is base of employment
Tom is the IT Security Director of a data storage company. He's on call 24 hours a day to be notified of a security breach. His employer installs a secure terminal at his home so he can work from home if he receives a call out of hours. Normally, Tom would provide advice over the phone to the staff on site, and sometimes he would log into the secure terminal at his home to correct the issue.
At times, Tom starts working on a security issue from the home terminal but is then required to drive into the office out of hours to resolve the issue. On these occasions the transport expenses he incurs for this journey are deductible, as his home has become a base of employment. However, his regular daily trip into the office is not deductible.End of example
You can claim a deduction for the cost of trips between home and work if you need to carry bulky tools or equipment and all the following conditions are met:
- the tools or equipment are essential to perform your work
- the tools or equipment are bulky, meaning that
- they are awkward to transport because of their size and weight
- they can only be transported conveniently using a motor vehicle
- there is no secure storage for such items at the workplace
- you don't transport the tools or equipment as a matter of choice (for example, if your employer provides secure storage and you choose to take the tools home instead).
If you claim a deduction, you will need to keep a record of:
- all work items you carry
- the size and weight of all work items
- evidence that the items you carry are essential to your work
- evidence that your employer did not provide secure storage at the workplace.
Media: Transporting bulky tools and equipment
https://tv.ato.gov.au/ato-tv/media?v=bd1bdiubx7d1ysExternal Link (Duration: 00:52)
Example: carrying bulky equipment is necessary
Masahito is an employee of an orchestra, where he plays double bass.
The orchestra plays in a number of venues and Masahito often travels directly from home to the various venues. He practises regularly at home, this is also the only place available to store his instrument when not being used.
The double bass is over 2 metres tall and 75 cm wide when in its case and is awkward to transport.
Masahito can claim a deduction for the car expenses he incurs when travelling between his home and workplaces. The need to transport his cumbersome double bass by car to the different workplaces means that the trips are not ordinary home to work travel.End of example
Example: carrying bulky tools is unnecessary
Merinda works as a fitter and turner on a mine site. She drives to the mine site each day.
The mine site has a building where staff can store their tools when not on duty. The staff have their own secure tool lockers.
Merinda requires a number of tools to do her job, so her toolkit is large and heavy. Although there is room to store the toolkit in her locker, she takes it home every day.
Merinda's toolkit would be considered bulky, but she has a secure place to store it at work. It is her decision to transport her tools between home and work each day.
As there is no practical need for Merinda to transport the bulky toolkit between home and her regular place of work, her trips remain ordinary private trips. She can't claim a deduction for her car expenses.End of example
If you do itinerant work (you have shifting places of work), you can claim transport expenses you incur for trips between your places of work and your home. The following factors indicate you do itinerant work:
- You travel because it's a fundamental part of your work, not just because it's convenient to you or your employer.
- You have a 'web' of workplaces you travel to throughout the day and no fixed place of work.
- You regularly work at more than one work site before returning home.
- You are often uncertain of the location of your work site.
- Your employer pays you a travel allowance because you need to travel continually between work sites, and you use this allowance to pay for your travel.
Example: one work site each day
Chloe is a substitute teacher, who travels to different schools when teachers are away. She sometimes attends a school for just one day, and at other times for a few weeks.
Chloe is not doing itinerant work. While she may not know where she's going to work each day, she will only ever work at one location for the day. She can't claim a deduction for her trips between home and work.End of example
Example: multiple work sites each day
Mitchell is an apprentice roof tiler. He is sent to various sites each day, going to the first site from his home and returning home at the end of the day from the last site.
Mitchell is doing itinerant work because he is regularly working at multiple sites during the day. He can claim deductions for the transport costs of his trips:
- between home and work each day
- between each site during the day.
However, if Mitchell routinely goes to only one site and works there for several days until the job is finished, he is not doing itinerant work.End of example
To claim a tax deduction for the transport expenses of a work-related trip, you must:
- have spent the money yourself and weren't reimbursed
- have records of your expenses.
How you work out your claim amount depends on whether you made the trip:
If you travel overnight to perform your work duties, you can generally claim a deduction for the cost of your flights and your expenses for accommodation, meals and incidentals.
If your travel is partly private, you can only claim a deduction for the transport expenses you incur in the course of performing your work duties.When you can and can't claim deductions for the cost of transport while working and between home and work.