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  • Other travel expenses

    Other travel expenses you have incurred as an employee that you may be able to claim as a deduction include:

    • expenses you incurred for meals, accommodation and incidentals when travelling away overnight for work, such as going to an interstate work conference (generally, you can't claim for meals if your travel did not involve an overnight stay)
    • the costs you incur for driving your car (such as fuel, oil, repairs and maintenance costs)when using someone else's car or other vehicle that is not defined as a car for work purposes
    • air, bus, train, tram and taxi fares
    • bridge and road tolls
    • car parking and car-hire fees.

    Vehicles other than cars are motorcycles, scooters, vehicles with greater than one tonne carrying capacity such as trucks or heavy vehicles or a van with capacity for nine or more passengers.

    You can't claim the purchase of other vehicles, but you can claim the decline in value of the vehicle over its effective life.

    You have to reduce your claim to exclude any private portion of your trip.

    You can't claim a deduction for:

    • any fines you receive, such as speeding or parking infringements.
    • normal daily trips between home and work – this is private travel.

    For a summary of this content in poster format, see Travel expenses (PDF, 526KB)This link will download a file.

    On this page:

    If you receive a travel allowance

    Receiving a travel allowance from your employer does not automatically entitle you to a deduction. Travel allowances may or may not be shown on your payment summary or income statement.

    If it’s on your payment summary or income statement, you will need to:

    • include the allowance in your tax return
    • claim a deduction for the amount you spent on deductible expenses.

    If it’s not on your payment summary or income statement and you spent the full amount on deductible expenses, you can either:

    • not include the allowance in your tax return and not claim a deduction for your expenses.
    • include the allowance in your tax return and claim a deduction for the amount you spent on deductible expenses.

    If it’s not on your payment summary or income statement and you didn't spend the full amount on deductible expenses, you will need to:

    • include the allowance in your tax return
    • claim a deduction for the amount you spent on deductible expenses.

    If you claim more than the reasonable allowance amount we set, you need to keep records of your expenditure.

    Watch:  

    Media: [Need to claim overnight work-related expenses?]
    http://tv.ato.gov.au/ato-tv/media?v=bd1bdiubx7do7d External Link(Duration: 01:18)

    Examples of travel expenses

    Example 1 – allowances listed on payment summary

    William works for a company in Sydney. William’s employer requires him to visit clients located in country New South Wales twice per month (ie every second week). This involves William sleeping away from his home for around three to four nights every second week.

    William’s employer pays him an allowance of $150 per night to cover accommodation, meal and incidental expenses and includes the allowance on his payment summary.

    As William’s employer has shown the travel allowance on his payment summary, he must include that allowance in his income on his tax return. William can claim a deduction for the amount he spends on meals and accommodation without keeping receipts or other written evidence, as long as his claim doesn't exceed the reasonable allowance amount. If William wishes to claim more than the reasonable allowance amount, he will need to keep written evidence for all his expenses.

    William can't automatically claim the reasonable amount as a deduction just because he has received an allowance. He can only claim the amount he spends on accommodation, meal and incidental expenses.

    Even if William does rely on the exception from keeping receipts or other written evidence, he may still be required to show the basis for determining the amount of his claim, that he spent the money, and that the travel was for work-related purposes.

    End of example

    Example 2 – allowances not listed on payment summary

    Assume William from Example 1 received an allowance of $150 per night from his employer to cover his accommodation, meal and incidental expenses and that William’s employer does not show the allowance on his payment summary.

    William isn't required to include the amount as income on his tax return, provided he has spent the entire amount and isn't seeking to claim any excess. As the allowance isn't included in William’s assessable income, he isn't entitled to claim a deduction for the amount he spends on accommodation, meal and incidental expenses.

    End of example

    Example 3 – work vs private

    Assume William from Example 1 travels to Wagga Wagga on one of the trips he takes to visit clients and decides to stay two extra nights in order to visit his sister. William stays at his sister’s house for the two extra nights he spends in Wagga Wagga and his employer doesn't pay him an allowance for those nights.

    As William’s trip to Wagga Wagga is for a work-related purpose as well as a private purpose, he must reduce his claim to exclude any private portion. The nights William spends in Wagga Wagga visiting his sister don't relate to his work duties. Accordingly, he is unable to claim a deduction for any money he spends on meal or incidental expenses while he is staying with his sister. However, he can still claim a deduction for the amount he spends on accommodation, meals and incidentals during the period he is visiting clients in Wagga Wagga.

    End of example

    Example 4 – deductions for a decline in value

    Michelle works for a company in Brisbane. In order to service a number of country-based clients, Michelle travels on average every few weeks. The duration of her trips is approximately three days but can extend up to approximately two weeks. Michelle normally stays at any given town for only one or two nights per week. Michelle is required to meet her travel costs as her salary has been increased to cover such trips. Michelle owns a caravan and uses it as accommodation and as an office when she travels. The caravan is never used by Michelle for private purposes.

    As Michelle is required to sleep away from her home overnight for work purposes, it is considered that her caravan is used for a taxable purpose. Michelle is therefore entitled to claim a deduction for the decline in value of the caravan. She is also entitled to a deduction for the amount she spends on meals and incidentals during the period she is travelling away from home for work purposes.

    End of example

    Example 5 – claiming deductions without receipts

    Assume Michelle from Example 4, instead of having an increased salary, received an allowance from her employer of $140 per night to cover accommodation, meal and incidental expenses. The allowance is included on Michelle’s payment summary. When Michelle arrives in a country area, she purchases food so she can eat breakfast in the caravan each morning. Occasionally, she also cooks dinner for herself in the kitchen in her caravan.

    As Michelle’s employer has shown the travel allowance on her payment summary, she must include that allowance in her assessable income on her tax return. Michelle can't automatically claim the reasonable amount as a deduction just because she has received an allowance. Michelle can only claim a deduction for the decline in value of her caravan and the amount she spends on food, meals eaten out and incidentals.

    If the amount of her claim is not more than the reasonable allowance amount, Michelle can make a claim without providing receipts or other written evidence in respect of her meals, caravan park rental and incidentals. She will need to retain records in respect of her caravan. However, she may still be required to show the basis for determining the amount of the meals, caravan park rental and incidentals claimed, that the money was spent, and that it was for work-related purposes.

    End of example

    Example 6 – private travel isn't deductible

    Max and Doris have retired from full-time work and spend their time travelling around Australia. They use their caravan as accommodation while they are travelling. When Max and Doris need some extra money, they work as fruit pickers for a couple of weeks at a time.

    During the year of income, Max and Doris spend 42 weeks travelling around Australia and ten weeks working at several different farms.

    Max and Doris aren't entitled to a deduction for the decline in value of their caravan or for any amounts they spend on meals, caravan park rental and incidentals during the ten week period they spent working. The caravan isn't used for a taxable purpose and the meal, caravan park rental and incidental expenses are private in nature.

    End of example

    Apportioning travel expenses

    You need to apportion your expenses if they are partly private in nature. If you travel on a work trip, you may not be required to apportion your costs where there is a minor private component that is merely incidental to the work.

    Examples of apportioning travel expenses

    Example 7 – travelling with a spouse of family member

    If you take your partner or children away with you when you travel for work. You can't claim the cost of any travel expenses you incur for them. For example, if you pay for a two bedroom apartment to accommodate your children, you can only claim a deduction for the cost you would have incurred on a one bedroom apartment had you travelled alone.

    End of example

    Example 8 – travel to another destination from a work location

    If you fly to Perth for a seven day work conference and add on a return trip to Broome for four days. You can only claim your flights to and from Perth. You can only claim the accommodation, meals and incidental expenses that you incurred during the seven days of work-related travel.

    End of example

    Example 9 – combined personal and work-related trip to same destination

    While you are in the process of booking a holiday to Sydney to see an art exhibit when your employer asks if you’d like to attend a three day work-related conference in Sydney which coincidently is to be held from the Monday following your planned holiday. You change your travel arrangements to include the additional time in Sydney. In total, you spend three days in Sydney for private purposes followed by three days at the conference. You must apportion your flights for the private component of your trip (50%) and only claim the accommodation, meals and incidental expenses you incur during the three days of work-related travel.

    End of example

    Example 10 – personal travel incidental to work-related travel

    You fly to London for a 10 day international, work-related conference. You stay over for an extra two days to do some sightseeing. While you can't claim the cost of accommodation and meals for the two days of private travel, the private component of the trip is merely incidental and so you can claim the full cost of your airfares.

    End of example

    Example 11 – attending work-related events during personal travel

    You are holidaying in Cairns when you become aware of a work-related seminar which runs for half a day. You can claim the cost of attending the seminar, but you can't claim your airfares to and from Cairns, or accommodation whilst in Cairns, as the primary purpose of the travel is private.

    End of example

    See also:

    Travel expense records

    You need to keep receipts or other written evidence for your travel expenses.

    You also need travel records (such as a travel diary) if you are away from home for six or more nights in a row. This is in addition to keeping receipts for your expenses.

    There are some exceptions for expenses on accommodation, meals and incidental expenses. You don’t have to keep all your receipts if:

    • you receive an allowance from your employer, and
    • your deduction is less than the Commissioner's reasonable amount.

    You can't claim a deduction for those travel expenses which are reimbursed to you.

    If you claim a deduction for more than the Commissioner’s reasonable amount you need to keep receipts for all expenses, not just for the amount over the Commissioner’s reasonable amount.

    Even if you are not required to keep receipts, you must be able to explain your claim and show you spent the amounts. For example, show your work diary records, the travel allowance you received and that you correctly declared your travel allowance.

    Travel diary

    A travel diary is a record of your travel movements and activities you undertake during your travel. It will help you work out the work-related and private elements of your trip.

    You will need a travel diary for each trip you take away from home for six or more nights in a row.

    You should record your movements and activities in whatever diary or journal you use. It can be paper or electronic. It must be in English.

    You must record your travel movements and activities before they end, or as soon as possible afterwards. You need to state:

    • where you were
    • what you were doing
    • the times the activities started and ended.

    See also:

    Last modified: 13 Sep 2019QC 31982