Employees guide for work expenses

  • This document has changed over time. View its history.

Part D - Substantiation requirements

Table of contents

Additional requirements for depreciating assets

Substantiating overnight travel expenses

Substantiation of car expenses

To claim a deduction for a work expense, including the decline in value of a depreciating asset (see Decline in value under the capital allowance provisions ), you must substantiate it by getting written evidence. This evidence can be in paper or electronic form. For most work expenses you need a receipt or similar document from the supplier that shows all of the following:

  • the name or business name of the supplier
  • the amount of the expense or cost of the asset
  • the nature of the goods or services that you purchased
  • the date you purchased the goods or services
  • the date the document was produced.

Example - valid receipt

Carla, who works on a construction site, buys a new pair of steel-capped boots from an online store. She gets a receipt by email that shows that she ordered and paid $229 for the boots from Workwear Online on 23 January 2019, and that the receipt was generated on 25 January 2019, when the boots were posted. The receipt is suitable substantiation, as it has all the information required, even though it was in electronic form.

If you don't get, or can't get, a receipt, you can provide other forms of evidence for your expenditure which might include, for example, bank statements, invoices or purchase orders. Together, the other forms of evidence need to show all of the items of information described above that would be required on a receipt.

Example - alternative substantiation

Amy pays her annual professional association fees but doesn't get the receipt. She has the letter from the organisation showing the amount due and payable and a credit card statement that shows she paid the organisation the same amount for 'Professional fees' a few days later. The combination of documents is sufficient for Amy to substantiate her expenses.

Example - insufficient substantiation

Mark buys some tools from a hardware store but he doesn't keep the receipt. He paid with cash that he had withdrawn that day. While he has bank records that show he made the withdrawal and the date the withdrawal was made, the bank statements don't show the name of the hardware store, the nature of the goods purchased or the cost of the tools he purchased. Mark has not substantiated the cost of the tools and he can't claim a deduction for this expense.

See more:

  • Law Administration Practice Statement PS LA 2005/7 Substantiating an individual's work-related expenses

Additional requirements for depreciating assets

As well as the original purchase documents that meet the substantiation requirements, you will need to keep additional records in respect of the depreciating assets you wish to claim. These records must show:

  • the rate or effective life you used to work out the decline in value and how you calculated it if you didn't use the Commissioner's rate
  • the method you used to calculate the decline in value
  • your work-related percentage and how you calculated it.

Substantiating overnight travel expenses

If you meet the criteria to claim overnight travel expenses ( accommodation , meals (food and drink) , or expenses incidental to the travel) as a work-related expense, generally you need to keep records for all of the overnight travel expenses you have incurred and intend to claim. This can include receipts for meal purchases, accommodation and other incidental expenses.

The specific records you need to keep depend on a number of factors including whether:

  • you receive a travel allowance
  • the allowance is reported on your payment summary
  • the travel allowance is to cover domestic or overseas travel
  • your travel away from home is for 6 nights or more in a row.

If the travel is longer than 6 nights away from home, you need to keep a travel diary, unless an exception applies.

Travel diary

A travel diary is a record of your work trip where you record the dates, places, times and duration of your activities and travel. The diary allows you to accurately calculate the work-related and private parts of the trip. You can only claim the work-related part of the trip.

There may be some exceptions from substantiation for your overnight travel expenses. Please refer to Exceptions for overnight travel for further information.

  • For more information on how to keep a travel diary, see Travel diary .

Substantiation of car expenses

Work-related car expenses have some additional requirements for substantiation and how you calculate your deduction. For information on these requirements, see Car expenses .

Amendment history




June 2022


Minor wording changes to improve clarity.

August 2020


Minor wording changes to improve clarity.

ATO references:
NO Employees guide for work expenses

Employees guide for work expenses
  Date: Version:
  1 July 2018 Original document
  6 August 2020 Updated document
  23 February 2021 Updated document
You are here 29 June 2022 Current document

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