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Travel agent employee expenses A–G

Last updated 23 June 2023

Details on claiming common employee travel agent 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 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 travel for work and you drive:

  • directly between separate jobs on the same day – for example, travelling to a second job with another employer
  • to and from an alternative workplace for the same employer on the same day – for example, driving between travel agent stores to attend meetings.
  • from home directly to an alternative workplace or from an alternative workplace directly to your home – for example travelling between your home and a travel expo you are working at.

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 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 mini-bus).

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: home to work travel

Nico is an employee travel agent. As he has a small child, his employer allows him to work from home rather than in the office. Nico has a home office that he uses exclusively for work. At least twice per month, Nico is required to attend the office for regular staff meetings.

Nico's home office is not his sole place of operations for his employment because Nico's employer would normally accommodate him at their office. Nico works at home for his convenience.

Nico can't claim a deduction for the costs of travelling from his home to the office twice per month for meetings. The travel is from his home to his regular place of work and the expenses are private.

End of example

 

Example: home to an alternative workplace

Jodie is an employee travel agent. She usually works at one of her employer's office in a suburb 10 kms from the Adelaide CBD. On occasion, Jodie attends half day training sessions at her employer's head office in the Adelaide CBD. When she is required to attend training, Jodie drives directly from her home to the head office for training and then onto her usual office once the training finishes.

Jodie can claim a deduction for the cost of driving from her home to her employer's head office (alternative workplace) and from head office to her normal office.

Jodie can't claim a deduction for the cost of driving from the suburban office (her normal workplace) to her home. These 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 your income producing activities.

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, jeans or business attire worn by office workers.

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 that has protective features or functions that you wear to protect you from specific risks of injury or illness at work. For example, steel-capped boots, fire-resistant clothing, or boiler suits that protect conventional 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, drill shirts, shorts, trousers, socks, 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 with AusIndustry.

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

Example: compulsory uniform with logo

Danielle is a travel agent with a large company. She wears a black shirt with the company monogram. It is compulsory for her to wear the shirt at work and Danielle must buy the shirts herself.

The shirt is only worn by employees of the company and isn't available to buy by the general public. Danielle's trousers, skirts and shoes are items of ordinary (everyday) clothing.

Danielle can claim a deduction for the cost of buying and maintaining the shirt as it is compulsory uniform.

However, because her trousers, skirt and shoes are of a conventional nature, Danielle can't claim for the cost of buying and maintaining these even though she must wear them and she only wears them to work.

End of example

 

Example: conventional clothing

Lena wears a business suit to work. It is not compulsory for a staff member to wear a business suit, but the employer encourages staff members to wear business attire.

Lena can't claim a deduction for the cost of buying her business suits because they are private in nature, even if

  • her employer tells her to wear them
  • she only wears the suits to work.
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.

Educational and familiarisation travel

It is common within the industry for sales staff to be offered or to take discounted holiday packages and trips. These are often referred to as ‘educationals’ or ‘familiarisations’.

While the knowledge and experience gained on any overseas, interstate or local trip could be of benefit to, and may be utilised in their employment, that alone isn't sufficient to make the expense deductible. If you claim a deduction for some or all the expenses of the trip, you need to be able to show that the trip was more than a holiday.

To keep a record of your travel activities you can use a travel diary that shows the dates, places, times and duration of your activities and travel. Taking a photo journal, recording the trip in a diary and making some inspections of accommodation are unlikely to result in the travel being considered as work related rather than a private expense.

Example: trip with employer's support

Alphonso takes 3 months' long service leave to visit Europe and see the places he recommends to clients. His employer encourages his holiday as it provides him with real life experience to discuss with clients. To show their support, Alphonso is granted an extra week’s leave on full pay.

While in Europe, Alphonso takes a tour which runs for 3 weeks. The tour company offers travel agents a significant discount to get them to take their tours and promote them to their clients. Alphonso receives a commission for each tour he sells. The rest of the time he is in Europe, Alphonso doesn’t have any set plans and just moves to a new city or country when he wants to and only undertakes activities that he is interested in.

As Alphonso is away for more than 6 nights in a row, he keeps a travel diary for the entire period of his trip. On the days of the tour, Alphonso finds out everything he can about the accommodation he stays in, the meals he eats and the sites he visits and then records detailed notes about these aspects of the tour so that he can share those details with his colleagues and his clients when he returns to work. The rest of the time he spends in Europe, he just records some general details when he remembers.

Alphonso can't claim a deduction for the full cost of this trip. The time Alphonso spent on the tour and the costs he incurs during that 3-week period on food, drink and expenses that are incidental to the travel would be deductible. This is because Alphonso essentially treats the tour as work time and spends his time gathering as much information as possible about every aspect of the tour in order to sell the tour to his clients and earn commission. The rest of his travel around Europe is a holiday and any costs incurred during that period will not be deductible. Although this part of the travel may assist Alphonso to do his job, it will only help him in a very general way.

As only part of the trip was work related, Alphonso can only claim a portion of the flight (3 weeks ÷ 13 weeks) to Europe as well.

End of example

 

Example: holiday private expense

Con accepts a discount holiday package to the USA so he may recommend it from experience upon his return. Con takes the educational trip during his annual leave with his family. They go on sightseeing tours, shopping trips and tours to theme parks.

Con can't claim a deduction for his expenses as the trip is essentially a holiday and therefore a private expense.

End of example

 

Example: trip with necessary connection to work

A wholesale travel company has developed a brand new tour. No brochures are currently available on the package so they will be relying solely on the retail sales consultants to sell the tour package in the first instance.

TT Travel Pty Ltd has agreed to send one of their sales consultants to experience the tour firsthand, take photographs with the company camera and provide a detailed report so the company can determine if they should market the tour, and if so, have material for that purpose. They have told sales consultant Jill that she has been selected.

The wholesaler is paying for the flights, accommodation, and any tour expenses, however Jill has to pay the airport taxes and for her meals.

Jill’s trip has the necessary connection with her work so she is working while she away rather than on a holiday. She can claim a deduction for her meals and airport taxes.

End of example

 

Example: portion of trip associated with holiday

Candice went on a 14 day self-drive tour of Tasmania. Her employer requests she attend a one day meeting in one of the towns she plans to visit to get some information. Candice agrees to the meeting and makes detailed notes about it for her employer. She made her own travel arrangements for the entire trip including the day she spends working.

Although the trip was a holiday, Candice can claim the travel expenses associated with the day she attended the meeting, that is, that night’s accommodation and meals for that day.

End of example

 

Example: no deduction allowed for private travel for familiarisation

Sophie is planning a holiday to Thailand with a group of friends. Thailand is a popular destination with many of the travel agency’s customers. Sophie believes she can claim a deduction for the cost of this trip as it will provide her with additional information and experience that she can pass on to clients.

Sophie can't claim a deduction for the trip as it is private in nature and only generally relates to her work duties.

End of example

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 don't have a direct connection to your income producing activities.

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

Example: entertainment costs you can't claim

Rachael attends a social breakfast organised by Tourism Australia. These breakfasts are held every other month and encourage travel agents to hear about new products and to network with colleagues in the industry.

Rachael can’t claim a deduction for the cost of attending the breakfast.

End of example

First aid courses

You can claim a deduction for the cost of first aid training courses if you are:

  • a designated first aid person
  • and 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.

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 as these are private expenses.

You can claim a deduction for the cost of anti-glare glasses if you wear them to reduce the risk of illness or injury while working.

Grooming expenses

You can't claim a deduction for hairdressing, cosmetics, hair and skin care products, even though:

  • you may receive an allowance for grooming
  • your employer expects you to be well groomed when at work.

All grooming expenses and products are private expenses.

For more employee travel agents' expenses, see

QC19099