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Bus driver expenses A–F

Details on claiming bus driver expenses.

Last updated 2 June 2024

Car expenses

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

  • live a long way from your usual/regular workplace
  • have to work outside normal business hours
  • work split shifts (for example, driving between home and work during your split shift when you drive the school route).

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
    • they 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 secure storage, your decision to transport items home will be a matter of choice.

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

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:

  • directly between separate jobs on the same day – for example, finishing your morning bus shift and travelling directly to your second job in administration
  • to and from an alternative workplace for the same employer on the same day – for example, travelling between different depots for the same company or employer
  • from home directly to an alternative workplace – for example, travelling from home to a depot other than your regular depot to fill in for another driver.

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 calculate 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 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.

If you claim your work-related car expenses using one of the above methods, you can’t claim any further deductions in the same tax return for the same car. For example, petrol, servicing, and insurance costs.

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 methods 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 9 passengers or more (such as a minibus).

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. Although you are not required to keep a logbook, it is the easiest way to calculate your work-related use of the vehicle.

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

Kingsley is a coach driver. His employer keeps a basic tool kit on the bus to fix minor repairs. If the bus breaks down Kingsley calls the duty mechanic to come out and do the repairs.

When Kingsley drives from his home to the depot, he carries his own large tool kit because he doesn't like the tools the employer provides. He takes it home with him each night after his shift because there is nowhere to store it securely at the depot.

Even if the tools were bulky, Kingsley can't claim a deduction for the cost of his travel between his home and the depot. It's his personal choice to carry tools that are not relevant to his driving duties and that his employer already provides.

There is no need in his employment to transport bulky tools between home and work. The costs of travelling between his home and the depot are private expenses.

End of example


Example: no shifting places of work

Hector is an employee of his local council as a bus driver. Hector must report to his local depot at the start of each shift.

At the depot, Hector is given his bus routes for the day and the bus he will be driving that shift. During his shift, he drives the bus along the various bus routes and at the end of each shift, Hector drives the bus back to the depot.

Hector can't claim a deduction for the car expenses he incurs when travelling between his home and the depot.

Hector doesn't have shifting place of work just because he drives to various locations along his bus routes. His travel to the depot is home to work travel and he doesn't incur the expenses in earning his income. The expenses are private.

End of example

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.

Cleaning products

You can claim a deduction for the cost of cleaning products you buy if one of your duties is to keep the bus clean. You can claim items such as anti-bacterial products, window cleaner and tissues.

You can't claim cleaning or sanitary products you buy for your personal use such as hand sanitiser.

You can't claim a deduction where your employer provides the cleaning products or reimburses you for the expenses.

Example: deduction for cleaning products

Dave drives a school bus. One of his duties is to clean the bus after he finishes his shift each day. His employer doesn't provide any cleaning products.

Dave buys some cleaning cloths, anti-bacterial cleaning spray and window cleaner so that he can wipe down the seats and clean the windows at the end of his shift.

Dave can claim a deduction for the cost of the cleaning products he buys to clean the bus.

If Dave uses these products at home, he will need to apportion the expenses for the work-related use and only claim that portion of the expense.

End of example

Clothing and uniform expenses (including footwear)

With a few exceptions, clothing can't be deducted as a work-related 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 items of clothing at work. 'Conventional clothing' is everyday clothing worn by people regardless of their occupation – for example, black pants and business shirts worn by bus 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 with protective features or functions you wear to protect yourself from specific risks of injury or illness at work. For example, steel-capped boots or fire-resistant 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, trousers, socks or closed shoes.
  • occupation-specific – clothing that distinctly identifies you as a person 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.
  • a compulsory uniform – clothing 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 – clothing that your employer registers on the Register of Approved Occupational Clothing and you wear the uniform at work.

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

Example: compulsory uniform with logo

Mike is a charter bus driver. His employer requires he buy and wear shirts with his employer's company logo embroidered on it. The employee guidelines include a requirement to wear black pants and shoes, but don't stipulate any other qualities of those items.

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

He can't claim the cost of buying his black pants and shoes. Even though his employer requires him to wear a specific colour, they are not distinctive enough to make them part of his uniform and are still conventional clothes.

End of example


Example: protective clothing

Rajesh is a bus driver for the city council. His employer requires him to buy and wear steel-capped boots when driving the bus for his protection.

The protective features of the boots (steel-caps) and the requirement for Rajesh to wear them while at work means that Rajesh can claim a deduction for the cost to buy the steel-capped boots.

If Rajesh's employer was to provide him the boots or reimburse him for the cost, he couldn't claim a deduction.

End of example


Example: registered non-compulsory uniform

Lena is a bus driver with a travel company. In addition to her role as a bus driver, she also works in the reception area for several hours each day. Unlike her role as a bus driver, reception staff have a uniform that comprises of a suit in the company's colours monogrammed with the company logo.

It isn't compulsory for a reception staff member to wear the uniform, however Lena's employer encourages staff members to wear it and has registered the suit as a non-compulsory uniform on the Register of Approved Occupational Clothing.

Lena can claim a deduction for the cost of buying the suit, because her employer has registered on the Register of Approved Occupational Clothing.

End of example

Compulsory assessments

You can claim a deduction for compulsory assessments and medical assessments 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 bus driver. For example, a fitness to drive assessment that you need to pass as a condition of employment.

Example: compulsory assessment you can't claim

Kirk interviews for a new job as a bus driver and is offered the position. As a condition of employment, before commencing work, Kirk must get a pre-employment medical assessment and provide the medical report to his employer. The assessment and report cost Kirk $125.

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

End of example

Drivers licence

You can't claim a deduction for the cost to get or renew your drivers 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 in order to perform your work duties. For example, the cost to get a heavy vehicle permit.

Example: heavy vehicle permit

Rhonda is a bus driver who needs a driver's licence and a heavy vehicle permit to perform her role. Her driver's licence renewal costs her $45 per year and it costs $73 to apply for the heavy vehicle permit.

Rhonda can't claim a deduction for the $45 to renew her licence because it is a private expense.

Rhonda can claim the cost of the heavy vehicle permit ($73) as it's an additional expense she must incur in order to perform her work duties.

End of example

Fines and penalties

You can't claim a deduction for any fines or penalties you get when you travel to work or during work. Fines may include parking and speeding fines or penalties. For example, a fine you receive for speeding whilst driving the bus.

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.

For more bus driver expenses, see: