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Train driver expenses A–F

Last updated 20 June 2023

Details on claiming train driver expenses.

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 or regular workplace
  • have to work outside normal business hours (for example, weekend or early morning shifts).

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

You are considered to have shifting places of work 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, travelling from your first job as a train driver directly to your second job as a safety instructor
  • to and from an alternative workplace for the same employer on the same day – for example, travelling between depots or train stations for work.
  • from home directly to an alternative workplace – for example driving to a training provider's premises to undertake a course.

You can't claim car expenses for a car you use under a salary sacrifice or novated lease arrangement. This is because it's usually your employer leasing the car from the financing company and making it available for your use. You can however claim additional work-related expenses you incur that are associated with your work use of the car such as parking and tolls.

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 work out 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 written 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 method 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

William is a long-haul train driver. For each shift, he drives his own car to work and parks it in a secure parking centre. He wears his train driver uniform to work but carries a duffel bag containing a change of clothes, a pair of sneakers as well as his lunch and a drink bottle.

William can't claim expenses that he incurs for driving his car from home to work as the bag and its contents are not essential for him to perform his duties as a train driver and they are not considered bulky. The costs of travelling between home and work are private expenses.

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.

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 at work.

'Conventional clothing' is everyday clothing worn by people regardless of their occupation – for example, jeans, polo shirts or sneakers worn by train 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 drill pants and shirts, socks or closed shoes such as sneakers.
  • 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 – that your employer registers on the Register of Approved Occupational Clothing with AusIndustry.

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

Example: compulsory uniform supplied by employer

Thomas is a train driver. His employer requires him to wear a uniform comprising of a white business shirt and dark grey business pants both with the rail logo embroidered on them.

The uniform was provided to Thomas as part of his induction pack at no cost to him. If the uniform is damaged, his employer will replace or repair it.

Thomas can't claim a deduction for the cost of buying or repairing his compulsory uniform as he doesn't incur any expenses.

End of example

 

Example: compulsory uniform with logo

Mikaela must buy and wear polo shirts with her employer's company logo embroidered on them. The employee guidelines include a requirement to wear professional black pants or a skirt and black shoes.

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

She can't claim a deduction for the cost of buying her black pants or skirt and shoes as they are conventional clothes. Even though her employer requires her to wear a specific colour, they are not distinctive enough to make them part of her uniform and are still conventional and the cost is private

End of example

 

Example: protective shoes

Trung is a long-haul train driver. He delivers coal to mine sites. For safety reasons, the mine sites require anyone coming on site to wear steel-capped boots and a hi-vis vest.

Trung's employer provides him with a hi-vis vest but not with boots. Trung buys a pair of steel-capped boots for $150 to wear while he is working.

Trung can't claim a deduction for the hi-vis vest. Although it is protective in nature, his employer provides the vest to him, so he does not incur any expense.

Trung can claim a deduction of $150 for the steel-capped boots he purchased. The boots have protective qualities and protect him from the risk of injury while he is working.

End of example

Compulsory assessments

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

Example: compulsory assessment you can't claim

Ros was interviewed for a new job as a train driver in regional NSW and is offered the position, subject to a condition. The condition was that, before commencing work, Ros must get a pre-employment medical assessment done and then provide the medical report to her employer.

The assessment and report cost Ros $125.

Ros can't claim a deduction for this assessment and report, as it's a requirement for her to have this assessment to gain employment as a train 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 to perform your work duties. For example, the cost you incur to get a heavy vehicle permit.

Entertainment and social functions

You can't claim a deduction for the cost of any entertainment, fundraising or social functions. This applies even if they are compulsory, non-compulsory or you discuss work matters at the event.

Entertainment and social functions include the cost of:

  • work breakfasts, lunches or dinners
  • attendance at sporting events
  • gala or social nights
  • concerts or dances
  • cocktail parties
  • other similar types of functions or events.

These are private expenses because these events do not have a direct connection to your income-producing activities.

You also can’t claim the cost of travelling to and from functions.

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.

Example: fine for speeding

Russell is a local train driver. Russell was caught breaking the speed limit while on duty and was issued with a fine by the relevant authority.

Russell can't claim a deduction for the cost of the fine.

End of example

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.

Example: first aid courses

Zac is currently employed as a train driver and is a designated first aid person. His employer pays for him to attend a first aid course, so he can assist if there is an emergency situation on his train.

As Zac's employer has paid for the course, Zac can't claim a deduction.

Zac could claim a deduction if he was to pay for the first aid course himself and his employer, does not reimburse him for this expense.

End of example

For more train driver expenses:

QC59080