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Truck driver expenses E–P

Details on claiming common truck driver expenses.

Last updated 2 June 2024

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.

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 overloading your truck.

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.

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 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.

Laundry and maintenance

You can claim a deduction for the costs 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
  • a uniform either non-compulsory and registered by your employer on the Register of Approved Occupational Clothing 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 at work 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 incurred for repairing and dry-cleaning expenses of the clothing you wear at work from one of the categories above.

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 isn't an automatic deduction.

Example: deduction allowed for laundry expenses

Josh is a local truck driver. His employer doesn't have a uniform policy. When Josh completes a delivery, he is required to leave his truck and fill out the necessary paperwork with a client.

Josh regularly delivers to depots that require all personnel to wear high-visibility shirts to comply with workplace health and safety regulations.

Josh buys and wears a high-visibility shirt, jeans and comfortable running shoes when he drives his truck. Josh washes his high-visibility shirts twice a week in their own wash separated from his other clothes.

Josh worked for 48 weeks during the financial year.

Josh calculates his claim as follows:

2 washes per week × $1 per load × 48 weeks of the year = $96

As his total claim for laundry expenses is under $150, Josh isn't required to keep evidence of his laundry expenses. However, if asked, he will still be required to explain how he calculated the claim.

End of example


Example: disallowed deduction for laundry expenses

Samuel is a short distance regional truck driver. His employer doesn't have a uniform policy. Samuel wears blue jeans, a t-shirt and comfortable running shoes while driving his truck.

Samuel can't claim a deduction for laundering his jeans and t-shirts as these items are considered conventional clothing and private in nature.

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't claim your meal expenses when you travel for work if you didn't need to:

  • take a mandatory long rest break as part of your shift
  • sleep away from home overnight for work for the purpose of carrying out your employment duties (travel expenses).

You can only claim one of each meal type in a 24-hour period, even if you eat at unusual times. For example, you can't claim for 2 dinners in one day.

Example: when you can't claim a meal expense

Matthew is a short-haul truck driver who transports a load of cement from Sydney to Canberra. He then returns to his base in Sydney the same day. He buys food and drink during the course of the trip.

He can't claim a deduction for the food and drink he buys, as this trip is part of his normal working day.

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 truck. Even if they're used to help relieve fatigue, these items aren't essential to earning your income. These are private expenses.

Newspapers and other news services, magazines and professional publications

The cost of newspapers, other news services and magazines are generally personal 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 of the following apply:

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

You can't claim a deduction if the allowance is not shown as a separate allowance on your income statement or your payment summary.

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

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

Example: deduction for overtime meal

Carl is a short-haul truck driver. On 30 separate times during the year Carl works overtime after completing his normal 8 hour shift. He receives an overtime meal break and overtime meal allowance of $20 under the award each time this occurs.

Carl generally buys and eats a meal costing $15 during overtime. Carl's income statement shows the overtime meal allowances as a separate allowance totalling $600. That is, 30 overtime shifts × $20 = $600.

In his tax return, Carl includes the allowance as income and claims a deduction. He works out his deduction as:

$15 × 30 overtime shifts = $450

That is the actual amount he spent on overtime meals multiplied by the number of overtime shifts.

As the amount Carl spent on his meals is less than the reasonable amount, Carl doesn't have to keep receipts. However, if asked, Carl will have to show that he spent the $450 on overtime meals and how he worked out his claim.

End of example

For more information, see TD 2023/3 Income tax: what are the reasonable travel and overtime meal allowance expense amounts for the 2023–24income year?

Parking fees and tolls

You can't claim a deduction for parking at or near a regular place of work. You also can't claim a deduction for tolls you incur for trips between your home and regular place of work. These are private expenses.

You can claim a deduction for parking fees and tolls you incur on work-related trips.

Example: allowance or reimbursement

Troy had to meet another truck driver 20 km away from the depot due to the driver having to take a mandatory long rest break. Troy met the other truck driver and drove the truck, while the other driver returned to the depot in the car.

Troy had to pay to go through a bridge toll to meet the other driver. Troy’s employer paid him for the amount of the bridge toll he incurred.

The amount Troy receives from his employer to cover the cost of the bridge toll is a reimbursement, so he:

  • doesn't include the reimbursement as income in his tax return
  • can't claim a deduction for the cost of the bridge toll.
End of example

Phone, data and internet expenses

You can claim a deduction for the phone, data and internet costs if you use your own phone or electronic devices for work purposes.

If your phone, data and internet use for work is incidental and you're not claiming more than $50 in total, you do not need to keep records.

If you claim more than $50, you need to keep records to show your work use. For example, an itemised bill where you can identify your work-related phone calls and data use.

You can’t claim a deduction if:

  • your employer provides you with a phone for work and pays for your usage
  • your employer reimburses you for the costs you incur

You can’t claim a deduction for any phone calls to family and friends, even while you're travelling for work. This is because these are personal phone calls.

For more information, see:

Example: calculating phone expenses

Sebastian uses his mobile phone for work purposes. He is on a set plan of $49 a month.

He receives a monthly itemised account from his phone provider that includes details of his individual phone calls.

At least once a year, Sebastian prints out his account and highlights the work-related phone calls he made. He makes notes on his account for the first month about who he is calling for work, for example, his manager and his clients.

Of the 300 phone calls he has made in a 4-week period, 30 (10%) of the individual phone call expenses billed to him are for work. Sebastian applies that percentage to his cap amount of $49 a month.

Sebastian calculates his phone calls for work purposes as follows:

Total work phone calls ÷ total number of phone calls = work use percentage for calls

30 ÷ 300 = 0.10 (that is 10%)

Sebastian can claim 10% of the total bill of $49 for each month for work purposes:

$49 × 0.10 = $4.90

Sebastian worked for 46 weeks of the year (10.6 months), so he calculates his work-related mobile phone expense deduction as follows:

10.6 months × $4.90 = $51.94

End of example

For more truck driver expenses, see: