Details on claiming common truck driver expenses for:
- Taxi, ride-share, public transport and car hire
- Tools and equipment
- Travel expenses
- Truck washing
- Union and professional association fees
- Working dogs
You can claim a deduction for transport costs if you travel in the course of performing your work. This may include either:
- taking a taxi to the depot because you have reached your maximum driving hours
- your employer requires you to travel from the depot to another location to start your work.
You can’t claim a deduction for travel expenses between home and work because these are private expenses.
You can't claim a deduction if your employer reimburses you for these expenses.
You can claim a deduction for tools and equipment if you use them to perform your duties as a truck driver.
You can only claim a deduction for the work-related use of the item.
If the tool or equipment cost you $300 or less, you can claim for the full amount in the year you buy it, if:
- you use it mainly for work purposes
- it's not part of a set that together cost more than $300.
You can claim a deduction for the cost over the life of the item (that is, decline in value) if the tool or equipment:
- cost more than $300
- is part of a set that together cost more than $300.
If you bought the tool or item of equipment part way through the year, you can only claim a deduction for the decline in value for the period of the income year that you own it. To work out your deduction use the Depreciation and capital allowances tool.
You can also claim a deduction for the cost of repairs to tools and equipment that you use for work purposes.
You can't claim a deduction for tools and equipment that are supplied by your employer or another person.
Example – deduction for tools essential to work
On 1 July, Alison bought a:
- set of spanners for $100
- tyre demount tool for $400.
She uses these tools at work during the week and at home on weekends to work on her car.
As the set of spanners cost less than $300, Alison can claim a deduction based on her work usage in the year she purchases them. She uses them 5 out of 7 days at work, so a reasonable basis for calculating the deduction is:
5 ÷ 7 days of work use × $100 = $71
As the tyre demount tool cost more than $300, she checks its expected life, which is 10 years. Alison can claim a deduction for a portion of the decline in value based on the work use of the tyre demount tool.
Alison works out her claimable deduction as (5 ÷ 7) × (1 ÷ 10) × $420 = $30 in the year she buys the tyre demount tool. She will continue to claim a deduction each year for the expected life of the tool.End of example
You can claim a deduction for travel expenses you incur when your work requires you to both:
- travel for work if you are required to take your mandatory long rest break
- sleep away from your home overnight (circumstances may be different for FIFO workers).
Expenses you can claim include your accommodation, meals and expenses which are incidental to the travel (incidentals). For example, when you travel interstate.
You can't claim a deduction for accommodation where you don't incur any accommodation expenses because you
- sleep in your truck
- sleep in accommodation your employer provides
- eat meals your employer provides
- are reimbursed for any costs by your employer or a third party.
You also can't claim a deduction if you are not required to sleep away from your home overnight in the course of performing your employment duties
If you can claim a deduction for accommodation, you must get and keep written evidence, such as receipts for all of your expenses.
Receiving an allowance from your employer doesn't automatically mean you can claim a deduction. In all cases, you need to be able to show:
- you were away overnight
- you spent the money
- the travel directly relates to earning your employment income
- how you calculated your claim.
If you receive a travel allowance you must include it as assessable income in your tax return unless all of the following apply:
- the travel allowance is not on your income statement or payment summary
- the travel allowance doesn't exceed the Commissioner's reasonable amount
- you spent the whole allowance on deductible accommodation, meal and incidental expenses (if applicable).
The Commissioner's reasonable amount is set each year. The amount is only used to determine whether an exception from keeping written evidence applies for the following expenses which are coved by a travel allowance:
You don't need to keep written evidence such as receipts if both of the following apply:
- you receive a travel allowance from your employer for the expenses
- your deduction is less than the Commissioner’s reasonable amount.
If your deduction is for more than the Commissioner's reasonable amount, you need to keep written evidence for all your expense, not just for the amount over the reasonable amount.
Even if you're not required to keep written evidence such as receipts, you must be able to explain your claim and show you spent the amounts.
Example: travel allowance not on your income statement
Juan travelled away from home for 4 = nights to deliver goods. His employer paid travel allowance of $50 to cover his food and drink for each night that Juan was away (a total of $200 for the journey). The allowance was less than the reasonable amount set and was not shown on his income statement.
Juan spent the whole $200 on food and drink while travelling away from home for work. Juan is not required to include the amount as income in his tax return as:
- his allowance is not shown on his income statement
- his allowance doesn't exceed the reasonable amount set
- he spent the whole amount on deductible expenses
- he did not spend more than the reasonable amount.
Juan can’t claim any deductions for the amounts he spent on food and drink.End of example
Example: away from home overnight, no allowances
Joe does an intercity haul that requires him to take a long mandatory rest break while travelling for work. He travels to a sleepover point where he hands the truck over to another driver and takes his break at the company-paid accommodation.
Joe buys himself dinner at a restaurant nearby and breakfast at the bakery. After his rest break, Joe takes over a truck from another driver and drives back to his employer’s depot. Joe doesn't receive a travel allowance for the travel.
Joe can't claim a deduction for the accommodation as his employer provides it for him to sleep in.
Joe can claim the cost of his meals because he incurred them as a result of having to sleep away from home when travelling for work. He needs to get and keep receipts to prove the expense because he did not receive a travel allowance.End of example
Example: spent less than reasonable amount – away from home overnight
Glenn is an employee truck driver. He drives from Melbourne, Victoria to Adelaide, South Australia. Glenn departs from Melbourne at 9:00 pm and drives through the night to get to Adelaide. When he arrives in Adelaide he sleeps in his truck cab, and then drives back to Melbourne the following day. Glenn receives a travel allowance of $40 for each day. Glenn's employer records these amounts on his income statement.
During his shift Glenn stops around midnight at a 24-hour truck stop in Horsham and spends $25 on food and drink. He continues on to Adelaide where he snacks on fruit and a sandwich he brought from home. After eating Glenn stays overnight in the truck cab. In the morning Glenn spends $20 on food and drink at the truck stop where he parked overnight.
Glenn heads to Bordertown, South Australia once the truck is loaded for the return trip. He stops here for lunch and spends $25 on food and drink. He continues on to Melbourne arriving at 5:00 pm, snacking on almonds and water he brought from home as he drives.
Glenn spent less than the reasonable amounts for each meal (dinner, breakfast and lunch) he bought during his trip. As such, he can claim a deduction for the full amount that he spent on those meals ($70). He isn't required to get and keep all the receipts for these meals. He may still need to provide a reasonable explanation of the expenses so having receipts would be useful in demonstrating a pattern.
Glenn is only eligible to claim a deduction for the expenses he has incurred, not the reasonable allowance amount.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?
You can claim a deduction for the cost of washing your truck. You can't claim a deduction if your employer reimburses you.
You can claim a deduction for union and professional association fees you pay. You can use your income statement as evidence of the amount you pay if it's shown on there.
You can claim a deduction for the costs associated with a working dog. You must be carrying cattle or livestock and need the dog to herd them and the following criteria are met:
- you use the animal in carrying out your work duties
- it is a requirement of your employment that you provide your own animal
- you train the animal for their role from a young age and don't treat them like a pet – for example, a cattle dog puppy is trained to herd cattle or livestock.
You can claim the costs you incur such as food, vet bills and miscellaneous items like the decline in value of equipment such as a saddle.
You can't claim the initial cost of buying the animal as this is a capital expense. However, you can claim a deduction for the decline in value of the working dog over its effective life.
You can't claim a deduction if your employer provides the animal, pays for the animal's expenses or reimburses you for expenses.
Example: working dog connected to employment
Greg is a truck driver who exclusively transports cattle. He owns Hamish, an Australian cattle dog which is a breed developed for droving cattle. Hamish has also been raised and trained as a cattle dog. Greg takes Hamish on his cattle runs and Hamish herds the cattle in and out of the truck.
Because of the connection with Greg's employment, he can claim a deduction for the costs incurs with Hamish to the extent of the work-related use of the dog.End of example
Example: companion dog not connected to employment
Sammy works as a long-haul truck driver who hauls a variety of goods around Australia. She owns Buster who is an Australian kelpie, a breed that was developed for herding livestock. Sammy takes Buster on her trips as a companion and guard dog, but he is never used for herding livestock.
There is no connection between Buster and Sammy's employment and therefore Sammy can't claim a deduction for expenses for Buster's upkeep.End of example
For more truck driver expenses, see: