• Work-related overnight travel expenses you can claim

    You can claim a deduction for overnight travel expenses you pay where:

    • your employer requires you to do your work away from your usual workplace for a short period
    • you are required to sleep away from home for one or more nights while you are doing that work.

    Overnight travel expenses may include:

    • meals, accommodation and incidental expenses
    • car, air, bus, train, tram, ferry and taxi fares
    • bridge and road tolls
    • car parking
    • car hire fees
    • visa application fees.

    Generally, meals, snacks and drinks you buy and consume whilst on the job are considered to be a private expense that you cannot claim as a deduction.

    Allowances

    A travel allowance is an amount you receive that could reasonably be expected to cover your accommodation, meals and expenses incidental to your work-related travel.

    If you receive a bona-fide travel allowance and you do not claim more than the reasonable allowance amount, you do not need to keep receipts or other written evidence. We set the reasonable allowance amounts for domestic and overseas travel expenses in an annual taxation determination that explains:

    • when you do not need evidence of your expenses
    • the way that you can claim your overnight travel expenses.

    Allowances include the Overseas Daily Travelling Allowance, Australian Daily Travelling Allowance, and Standard Daily Travelling. These allowances in relation to any of your domestic and overseas travel expenses are fully assessable.

    If you have expenditure in excess of the allowance you received from your employer, you can claim the full amount as long as:

    • it is a deductible expense
    • you have recorded the allowance as income at item 2 on your tax return
    • you have written evidence to substantiate the full claim if it exceeds the reasonable allowance amount we set.

    If, under your workplace agreement, your travel allowance is folded into your salary and wages, it is not considered to be an allowance. To claim travel expenses against these amounts, they need to be deductible expenses and you must have written evidence to support your claim.

    If the travel allowance that has been folded into your salary and wages covers only day travel where you are not required to sleep away from home, you cannot claim a deduction for meal expenses.

    Example 7allowance shown separately on payment summary

    Helen received a $6,000 allowance from her employer, ABC Airline. Helen found that this allowance was not enough to cover all of her deductible work-related travel expenses. She spent $6,500 and kept all of her receipts. The $6,500 is a deductible expense.

    At the end of the financial year, ABC Airline gave Helen her payment summary that showed she had $90,000 in salary and wages and $6,000 in allowances. When Helen completed her tax return she recorded $6,000 at item 2. She can claim $6,500 under item D2 in her tax return because she spent all of her allowance and kept all of her receipts (so she could substantiate the full amount of her claim).

    Example 8allowance folded into salary and wages

    Andrew who works for LMN Airlines received an amount of $6,200 to cover his overnight travel expenses. He spent the full $6,200 on deductible travel expenses and kept all of his receipts.

    At the end of the financial year, LMN Airlines gave Andrew his payment summary that showed he had $96,200 in salary and wages. Because LMN Airlines did not report the $6,200 separately on Andrew's payment summary and the amount was folded-in with his salary and wages, it is not considered to be an allowance. In this case, Andrew has incurred expenses for the full $6,200 that he received to cover his expenses. Andrew will need to keep all of his receipts to substantiate the expenses so he can claim them on his tax return.

    Example 9daily travel allowance

    Doone works for XYZ Airlines and received a daily travelling allowance of $4,000 that was folded into his salary and wages. This daily travel allowance covered day trips only, where sleeping away from home was not required.

    Because Doone was not working on flights that required him to sleep away from home, the expenses he incurred for meals during the course of his working day are private in nature and are not deductible. If he incurred any other expenses that are deductible, he needs to keep receipts or other written evidence to support his claims.

    End of example

    Keeping records of your overnight travel expenses

    If a travel allowance is not shown on your payment summary and was not more than the reasonable allowance amount, you do not have to show it on your tax return as long as both of the following apply:

    • you have spent the entire allowance on expenses that you can claim as a deduction
    • you are not claiming the deduction on your income tax return.

    If you wish to claim meal, accommodation and incidental expenses you incurred while away overnight for work, use the following tables to determine what evidence you need. You can claim a deduction for the full amount of your overnight travel expenses without keeping all your records if:

    • you receive a travel allowance that could reasonably be expected to cover your accommodation, meals or expenses incidental to the travel (a token amount paid as a travel allowance is not accepted as reasonably covering such costs), and
    • your overnight travel expenses were equal to or less than the reasonable allowance amount we set.

    You do not have to keep written evidence but we may ask you to explain how you worked out the amount you spent.

    If you do not receive a travel allowance:

     

    Domestic travel

    Overseas travel

    Written evidence

    Travel diary

    Written evidence

    Travel diary

    Travel less than six nights in a row

    Yes

    No

    Yes

    No

    Travel six or more nights in a row

    Yes

    Yes

    Yes

    Yes

    If you received a travel allowance and your claim does not exceed the reasonable amount:

     

    Domestic travel

    Overseas travel

    Written evidence

    Travel diary

    Written evidence

    Travel diary

    Travel less than six nights in a row

    No

    No

    No*

    No

    Travel six or more nights in a row

    No

    No

    No*

    Yes**

    *Regardless of the length of the trip, written evidence is required for overseas accommodation expenses but not for food, drink and incidentals.

    **Members of international aircrews do not have to keep a travel diary if they limit their claim to the amount of the allowance received.

    If you received a travel allowance and your claim exceeds the reasonable allowance amount:

     

    Domestic travel

    Overseas travel

    Written evidence

    Travel diary

    Written evidence

    Travel diary

    Travel less than six nights in a row

    Yes

    No

    Yes

    No

    Travel six or more nights in a row

    Yes

    Yes

    Yes

    Yes

    Example 10 - keeping records

    Wendy works for an international airline. She receives an overseas travel allowance and incurs work-related travel expenses. She claims a deduction in excess of the reasonable meal and incidentals amount that is covered by the allowance.

    Wendy must keep records of all her expenses, not just the excess over the reasonable amount. Written evidence must be obtained for overseas accommodation expenses, regardless of whether an overseas travel allowance is received. Wendy must also keep a travel diary when she is away for six or more nights.

    End of example

    See also:

    Travel diary

    A travel diary is a document that shows the dates, places, times and duration of your activities and travel.

    Written evidence

    Written evidence includes:

    • invoices, receipts or other documents showing your travel expense details - if it is too difficult to get a receipt for a meal you purchased (for example, if you purchase a meal from a vending machine) you can keep diary entries as your proof of purchase
    • other documents (such as diary entries for small amounts or for when you could not get a receipt) to show your expenditure such as bus, train, tram, taxi fares, parking fees, bridge and road tolls.

    You must keep written evidence for your overseas accommodation expenses, regardless of the length of the trip.

      Last modified: 05 Oct 2016QC 24416