Details on claiming common truck driver expenses for:
- Car expenses
- Child care
- Clothing and uniform expenses (including footwear)
- Compulsory assessments
- Drivers licence
You can claim a deduction for the cost of accommodation if you are a long-haul driver required to travel for work. That is, take a mandatory long rest break and sleep away from home in the course of performing your income-producing activities.
If you sleep in your truck you can't claim a deduction because you haven’t spent any money on accommodation.
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, you drive for 2 separate employers
- to and from an alternative workplace for the same employer on the same day – for example, travelling between depots
- 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.
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:
- 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 people mover van).
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: when you can't claim a deduction for transporting your own tools
Raj is a short-haul truck driver. Raj's employer requires him to make minor repairs to the truck with his own tools if it breaks down. His employer provides a secure area at the depot for Raj to store his tools in. Raj chooses to transport his tools to and from work each day.
Raj can't claim a deduction for the expenses he incurs in transporting his tools to and from work each day. This is because the tools that Raj uses are for making minor repairs and are not bulky.
Even if the tools Raj required were bulky, he would not be able to claim a deduction. He has chosen, as a matter of convenience, to carry the tools between home and the workplace instead of using the secure storage provided.End of example
Example: travelling between two jobs
Avery travels directly from her job delivering bread in the morning to her second job as a meal-kit delivery driver in the afternoon, 3 days per week.
She can claim a deduction for the travel between one workplace to the other. She can't claim a deduction for the travel between her home and the workplaces.
Avery uses the myDeductions tool in the ATO app to record her trips in the digital logbook. This gives her an accurate record of the kilometres she travels in the financial year. She uploads these records to her tax return when she is ready to lodge.End of example
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.
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, sneakers, jeans and a t-shirt.
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 you from specific risks of injury or illness at work. For example, steel-capped boots, fire-resistant clothing, or overalls 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: deduction allowed for compulsory work-related clothing
James is a long-haul truck driver. His employer requires that all drivers wear the company shirt, full length pants and enclosed shoes. The shirt has the company name and logo embroidered on it.
James buys 5 company shirts, full length jeans and a pair of comfortable running shoes.
James can claim a deduction for the cost of buying the shirts as they are mandatory for him to wear when he is working. The logo makes the clothing unique and distinctive to the organisation he works for.
James can't claim a deduction for the jeans or running shoes as these items are considered conventional clothing.End of example
Example: deduction allowed for protective clothing items
Laura is a short-haul truck driver and is required to use a forklift to unload the truck when she reaches her destination. Laura buys a pair of steel cap boots for protective purposes. Her employer doesn’t have a uniform policy, but requests employees dress appropriately for their role.
Laura is operating heavy machinery and all of the depots she delivers to require everyone in the delivery area to wear steel cap boots to comply with workplace health and safety regulations.
Laura can claim a deduction for the cost of the boots. The boots protect her from the risk of injury posed by the activities she undertakes to earn her income as well as provide a sufficient degree of protection against that risk.End of example
You can claim a deduction for compulsory assessments and medical examinations your employer requires you to take in your current employment. For example, an annual vision test.
You can’t claim a deduction for compulsory pre-employment assessments and medical examinations you take to obtain employment as a truck driver. For example, a general medical assessment to certify that you are fit to drive.
Example: pre-employment assessment
Verity applies for a job as a truck driver. At the end of the job interview, she is advised she has been successful and will secure the job so long as she passes a pre-employment medical examination.
Verity can't claim a deduction for this pre-employment medical examination, as it's a requirement for her to pass it to gain employment as a truck driver.End of example
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.
Example: heavy vehicle permit
Raymond is a short-haul truck driver who needs a drivers licence and a heavy vehicle permit to work. His drivers licence renewal costs him $45 per year and it costs $73 to apply for the heavy vehicle permit.
Raymond can't claim a deduction for the cost to renew his licence ($45) because it is a private expense.
Raymond can claim the cost of the heavy vehicle permit ($73) as it's an additional expense he must incur to work as a truck driver.End of example
For more truck driver expenses, see: