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  • Records you need to keep

    During the financial year you'll receive documents that are important for doing your tax, such as payment summaries and receipts, invoices and contracts.

    For a summary of this information in poster format, see Records you need to keep – set the record straight (PDF, 293KB)This link will download a file

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    Keeping your records

    Records are usually a receipt from the supplier of the goods or services. A receipt must show the:

    • name of the supplier
    • amount of the expense
    • nature of the goods or services
    • date the expense was paid
    • date of the document.

    You need to keep these for five years from when you lodge your tax return in case we ask you to substantiate your claims.

    Records you need to keep include:

    • payment summaries, including your employer and the Department of Human Services
    • statements from your bank and other financial institution showing the interest you've earned
    • dividend statements
    • summaries from managed investment funds
    • receipts or invoices for equipment or asset purchases and sales
    • receipts or invoices for expense claims and repairs
    • contracts
    • tenant and rental records.

    If your total claim for work-related expenses is more than $300, you must have written evidence to prove your claims.

    If you acquire a capital asset – such as an investment property, shares or managed fund investment – start keeping records immediately because you may have to pay capital gains tax if you sell the asset in the future. Keeping records from the start will ensure you don't pay more tax than necessary.

    If you are claiming the cost of a depreciating asset you have used for work such as a laptop. You must keep purchase receipts and a depreciation schedule, or details of how you calculated your claim for decline in value, for five years following your final claim. We may ask that you show us your records during the five years, it is important that you have sufficient evidence to support your claims.

    Your documents must be in English unless you incurred the expense outside Australia.

    myDeductions

    Records you keep don't have to be in paper form. myDeductions is a record-keeping tool that makes it easier for you to keep track of your records digitally.

    Records made and stored electronically are recognised as documents, this includes photos of your receipts.

    Sole traders with simple affairs can also use it to help keep track of their business income and expenses.

    You can upload your completed records from the myDeductions tool and pre-fill your myTax return. If you use a registered tax agent, you can email your records directly to them.

    The myDeductions tool allows you keep your records digitally in one place during the income year for:

    • all work-related expenses (including car trips)
    • interest and dividend deductions
    • gifts or donations
    • costs of managing tax affairs
    • sole trader expenses and business income
    • other deductions.

    Watch:

    This video shows how easy it is to keep your records using myDeductions.

    Media: [How to add and review deductions in myTax]
    http://tv.ato.gov.au/ato-tv/media?v=bd1bdiuboi3ynbExternal Link (Duration: 2:53)

    See also:

    Record keeping exceptions

    Record keeping exceptions are available to make things simpler – they don’t allow you to claim an automatic deduction.

    In some circumstances you may not need receipts, but you will still need to be able to show you spent the money and how you calculated the claim.

    If you are unable to obtain a receipt from a supplier, you can still claim a deduction. Evidence of your expenses can include a bank or credit card statement that shows the amount that was paid, when and who it was paid to as well as other documents that outline the nature of the goods or services provided.

    If you pay cash to a supplier and have no other documentation to support your claim, you will not have sufficient evidence to claim a deduction.

    Record keeping rules for work-related expenses

    If you claim work-related deductions you must have records or be able to show how you calculated your claims.

    Specific record keeping rules apply for certain work-related expenses. These expenses include:

    Car expense records

    The records you need to keep depend on the method you use to calculate your claim.

    If you use the cents per kilometre method, you don't need receipts however you do need to be able to show how you worked out your business kilometres.

    If you use the logbook method, your claim must be based on the percentage of work use of your car. You must also keep:

    • original receipts for all other expenses for the car
    • details of how you calculated your claim for the decline in value of your car, including the effective life and method used.

    If your claim relates to the transport of bulky tools and equipment, you will need to keep a record of:

    • all work items carried
    • the size and weight of all work items
    • evidence that the items carried are essential to your work
    • evidence that your employer provided no secure storage at the workplace.

    Your logbook is valid for five years, but you can start a new logbook at any time. If the work use of your car changes, you need to complete a new log book.

    You can claim fuel and oil costs based on your actual receipts, or you can estimate the expenses based on odometer readings from the start and the end of the period in which you used the car during the year.

    See also:

    Travel expense records

    The records you need to keep for work-related travel expenses depend on:

    • whether your travel allowance is shown on your payment summary
    • whether your travel was domestic or overseas
    • the length of your travel and occupation.

    Travel records you should keep include:

    • a travel diary or itinerary, if your travel was for six nights or more
    • receipts for all meals, airfares, accommodation, parking and tolls
    • an explanation of how the travel was work-related, the number of nights you slept away from home and the location.

    If your travel allowance is shown on your payment summary or income statement and you want to make a claim against it, you must have written evidence for the whole amount, not just the excess over the reasonable amount.

    See also:

    Clothing, laundry and dry-cleaning expense records

    You need to keep receipts to claim for the purchase of occupation-specific clothing, protective clothing, or unique and distinctive uniforms.

    To claim a deduction for laundering occupation-specific clothing, protective clothing or unique and distinctive uniforms, you must keep details of how you calculated your claim.

    If you use a dry-cleaning service for the clothes, you need to keep receipts.

    You don't need to keep receipts if your laundry claim is under $150. However, you will still need to be able to show how you calculated your claim.

    See also:

    Phone and internet expense records

    To claim a deduction of more than $50 you must:

    • keep all your phone and internet bills for the year
    • show how much is related to work.

    Highlight all your work-related calls in a representative four-week period which can then be applied to the full period.

    Unless you only use your phone and internet for work, you will have to determine the work-related portion of your expenses. Keep a record of the calculation and only claim that amount.

    If you have a bundled plan, you can keep a diary covering a representative four-week period showing how often you use each service for work. This pattern of work use can then be applied to the full working period.

    To determine your work use you can record your:

    • internet use – as the time you spent, or data used for work purposes compared to your private usage and that of all members of your household
    • phone use – the number of work calls made as a percentage of total calls or the amount of time spent on work calls as a percentage of your total calls.

    See also:

    Working from home expense records

    When claiming running costs for your home office (such as electricity and home office equipment) the types of records you need to keep depend on the method you use to work out your claim.

    If you are using the fixed rate method (52c per hour from 1 July 2018), either keep records of your actual hours spent working at home for the year, or keep a diary for a representative four-week period to show your usual pattern of working at home.

    If you are claiming the actual costs you have incurred, keep your receipts for items you will claim outright (for example, receipts for stationery or statements for electricity and gas).

    See also:

    Self-education expense records

    You must keep receipts for all self-education expenses, including course fees, text books, stationery and travel expenses.

    You must also be able to explain how the course directly related to your employment at the time of study.

    If you are claiming the portion of a depreciating asset that you have used for self-education – for example, a laptop you must keep receipts and a depreciation schedule, or details of how you calculated your claim for decline in value.

    See also:

    Records required for depreciating assets

    Some items, like a computer or car, have a limited life expectancy (effective life) and are expected to depreciate over time or decline in value.

    You must keep receipts and you also need to be able to show:

    • the date you first started using the asset for work-related purposes
    • the effective life of the asset (how long an asset can be used for). If you have not adopted the effective life determined by us, you will need to show how you worked out the effective life
    • the method used to work out the decline in value
    • how you have calculated the percentage of work use.

    See also:

    Last modified: 24 Jun 2019QC 31973