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Bus driver expenses G–O

Last updated 7 June 2023

Details on claiming bus driver expenses.

Glasses, contact lenses and anti-glare glasses

You can't claim a deduction for prescription glasses or contact lenses, even if you need to wear them while working. These are private expenses.

You can claim a deduction for the cost of protective glasses if you wear them to reduce the real and likely risk of illness or injury while working. Protective glasses include anti-glare or photochromatic glasses, sunglasses, safety glasses or goggles.

You can only claim a deduction for the work-related use of the item.

Example: claiming sunglasses

Brianna is an employee bus driver. She works for company that does airport transfers. Her regular route involves picking up passengers from the airport and taking them into the city centre. She wears sunglasses to protect against the glare of the sun while driving the bus. She also needs to wear prescription glasses while driving, for her short-sightedness.

Brianna buys a pair of prescription sunglasses which counter the glare during day driving. She also buys a pair of untinted prescription glasses for night driving.

Brianna can claim a deduction for the prescription sunglasses as they protect her eyes from the glare of the sun.

Brianna can't claim a deduction for the untinted prescription glasses. These are a private expense as they do not provide protection from illness or injury while she is working or from her working environment.

If Brianna also uses her prescription sunglasses for private purposes, she will need to work out her deduction based on the amount of work-related use.

End of example

Laundry and maintenance

You can claim a deduction for the cost you incur to wash, dry and iron clothing you wear at work if it's:

  • protective (for example, a hi-vis jacket)
  • occupation specific and not a conventional, everyday piece of clothing such as jeans or general business attire
  • a uniform either non-compulsory registered with AusIndustry or compulsory.

This also includes laundromat and dry-cleaning expenses.

We consider that a reasonable basis for working out your laundry claim is:

  • $1 per load if it only contains clothing you wear from one of the categories above
  • 50c per load if you mix personal items of clothing with work clothing from one of the categories above.

You can claim the actual costs you incur for repairing and dry-cleaning expenses.

If your laundry claim (excluding dry-cleaning expenses) is $150 or less, you don't need to keep records but you will still need to calculate and be able to show how you worked out your claim. This is not an automatic deduction.

Example: laundry expenses

Jelani's employer provides her with a compulsory uniform to wear at work. She washes, dries and irons her compulsory uniform in a separate load of washing twice a week. Jelani works 48 weeks during the year.

She works out her claim of $96 for laundry as follows:

Number of claimable laundry loads per week × number of weeks = total number of claimable laundry loads

2 × 48 = 96

Total number of claimable laundry loads × reasonable cost per load = total claim amount

96 × $1 = $96

As her total claim for laundry expenses is under $150 ($96) Jelani isn't required to have written evidence of her laundry expenses. Although Jelani doesn't require written evidence to prove her claim for laundry, if asked she will need to be able to explain how she works out her claim.

End of example

Meal and snack expenses

You can't claim a deduction for the cost of food, drink or snacks you consume during your normal working hours, even if you receive a meal allowance. These are private expenses.

You can claim:

  • overtime meal expenses, but only if you buy and eat the meal while you are performing overtime and you receive an overtime meal allowance under an industrial award
  • cost of meals you incur when you are travelling overnight for the purpose of carrying out your employment duties (travel expenses).

Example: no deduction for food and drink

Renee is a coach driver for a company that conducts day tours for tourists. Her employer pays her a meal allowance of $20 per shift which shows on her income statement at the end of the year.

During her shift, Renee buys and consumes food and drink. When Renee lodges her income tax return she will need to declare the meal allowance she receives as income from her employer.

Renee can't claim a deduction for the amount she spends on food and drink. This is because buying and consuming the food and drink was during her regular working hours. Even though she receives an allowance, these expenses are private.

End of example

Music streaming services, CDs, audio books or podcasts

You can't claim a deduction for music streaming services, CDs, audio books, podcasts or devices that you use in the bus. Even if they're used to help relieve fatigue, these items aren't essential to earning your income. They are private expenses.

Newspapers and other news services, magazines and professional publications

The cost of newspapers, other news services and magazines are generally private expenses and not deductible.

You can claim a deduction for the cost of buying or subscribing to a professional publication, newspaper, news service or magazine if you can show:

  • a direct connection between your specific work duties and the content
  • the content is specific to your employment and is not general in nature.

If you use the publication for work and private purposes, you can only claim the portion related to your work-related use.

Overtime meal expenses

You can claim a deduction for the cost of a meal you buy and eat when you work overtime, if all the following apply:

  • you receive an overtime meal allowance under an industrial law, award or agreement
  • the allowance is on your income statement as a separate allowance
  • you include the allowance in your tax return as income.

You can't claim a deduction if the allowance is part of your salary and wages and not included as a separate allowance on your income statement.

You generally need to get and keep written evidence, such as receipts, when you claim a deduction. However, each year we set an amount you can claim for overtime meal expenses without receipts. We call this the 'reasonable amount'. If you receive an overtime meal allowance, are claiming a deduction and spent:

  • up to the reasonable amount, you don't have to get and keep receipts
  • more than the reasonable amount, you must get and keep receipts for all your expenses.

In all cases, you need to be able to show you spent the money and how you work out your claim.

Example: deduction for overtime meals

Carlos is a bus driver for the local city council. After completing his 8 hour shift, Carlos agrees to do overtime for an additional two hours to cover for someone who has called in sick. Under his enterprise agreement, Carlos is entitled to receive an overtime meal allowance of $15.80 when he works two hours or more of overtime.

Prior to commencing his overtime shift, Carlos gets a 30 minute meal break. While he is on his meal break, Carlos buys and eats a meal and drink which costs him $18.20.

Carlos declares the allowance of $15.80 as per the amount shown on his income statement and claims a deduction of $18.20.

The amount Carlos is claiming as a deduction is less than the reasonable amount so Carlos doesn't have to keep written evidence. However, he will need to show that he spent the money and how he calculates his claim.

End of example

For more information, see TD 2022/10 Income tax: what are the reasonable travel and overtime meal allowance expense amounts for the 2022-23 income year?

For more bus driver expenses, see:

QC61150