ATO Interpretative Decision

ATO ID 2004/613

Income Tax

Deduction: global positioning system installed in employer provided motor vehicle
FOI status: may be released
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Status of this decision: Decision Current
CAUTION: This is an edited and summarised record of a Tax Office decision. This record is not published as a form of advice. It is being made available for your inspection to meet FOI requirements, because it may be used by an officer in making another decision.

This ATOID provides you with the following level of protection:

If you reasonably apply this decision in good faith to your own circumstances (which are not materially different from those described in the decision), and the decision is later found to be incorrect you will not be liable to pay any penalty or interest. However, you will be required to pay any underpaid tax (or repay any over-claimed credit, grant or benefit), provided the time limits under the law allow it. If you do intend to apply this decision to your own circumstances, you will need to ensure that the relevant provisions referred to in the decision have not been amended or repealed. You may wish to obtain further advice from the Tax Office or from a professional adviser.

Issue

Is the taxpayer disallowed a deduction in respect of the installation of a global positioning system (GPS) in their employer provided motor vehicle pursuant to section 51AF of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936 (ITAA 1936)?

Decision

No. The taxpayer is not disallowed a deduction in respect of the installation of a GPS in their employer provided motor vehicle pursuant to section 51AF of the ITAA 1936.

Facts

The taxpayer has an employer provided motor vehicle.

The employer provided motor vehicle is a sedan.

The motor vehicle is provided for the taxpayer's exclusive use and the taxpayer is entitled to use it for private purposes.

The taxpayer purchased and installed a portable GPS in this vehicle. The GPS is an electronic street directory/course plotting tool. The GPS was used by the taxpayer for work purposes and the taxpayer would be entitled to a deduction under Division 40 of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 (ITAA 1997) for the decline in value of the GPS.

Reasons for Decision

Section 51AF of the ITAA 1936 operates to deny a deduction for car expenses incurred by an employee in relation to a car which is provided by the employer for the exclusive use of the employee and which the employee is entitled to use for private purposes.

The term 'car' has the meaning given by section 995-1 of the ITAA 1997 which defines it as 'a motor vehicle (except a motor cycle or similar vehicle) designed to carry a load of less than 1 tonne and fewer than 9 passengers'.

Subsection 51AF(2) of the ITAA 1936 also provides that the phrase 'car expense' has the meaning given by section 28-13 of the ITAA 1997, which defines car expense as 'a loss or outgoing to do with a car' including 'a loss or outgoing to do with operating a car and the decline in value of a car'.

The definition of car expense in section 28-13 of the ITAA 1997 has its antecedence in subsection 82KT(1) of the ITAA 1936. Accordingly, discussion on the meaning of 'car expenses' in subsection 82KT(1) of the ITAA 1936 is relevant for the purposes of section 28-13 of the ITAA 1997.

In AAT Case 7273 (1991) 22 ATR 3402; Case Y43 91 ATC 412, the Tribunal found that the phrase 'car expenses', for the purposes of subsection 82KT(1) of the ITAA 1936 should not be read to encompass any and all expenses connected to an employer provided car. Rather, the scope of 'car expenses' is to be defined by taking into account the context and the purpose of the provision, and the issue is whether the expenses are 'in respect of a car expense that relates to the car'. In the Tribunal's view:    


the disallowance of car expenses is primarily put in place to prevent "double dipping", in which an employee claims expenses already factored into the formulas used to calculate fringe benefits tax assessed to the employer. That being so, the better construction is that expenses such as parking fees and bridge tolls in the present case, linked to the car, but generated for reasons other than the direct operation of the car and not otherwise factored into the tax regime, should not be disallowed.

Accordingly, under this view expenses linked to the car which are generated other than by the direct operation of the car would not usually be caught by section 51AF of the ITAA 1936.

The taxpayer's employer provided sedan is a 'car' as defined in section 995-1 of the ITAA 1997. The car is provided for the taxpayer's exclusive use and the taxpayer is entitled to use the car for private purposes.

The taxpayer has installed a GPS in the car to assist them to locate client addresses. The taxpayer would be entitled to a deduction for the decline in value of the GPS under Division 40 of the ITAA 1997. The GPS has no bearing on the operation of the car itself. As such, the expenditure on the GPS is generated for 'reasons other than the direct operation of the car' and so does not fall within the definition of 'car expenses' for the purposes of section 28-13 of the ITAA 1997.

As an outgoing on the GPS is not a 'car expense' a deduction in respect of the GPS will not be disallowed under section 51AF of the ITAA 1936.

Date of decision:  31 May 2004

Year of income:  Year ended 30 June 2004 Year ended 30 June 2005 Year ended 30 June 2006 Year ended 30 June 2007

Legislative References:
Income Tax Assessment Act 1936
   section 51AF
   subsection 51AF(2)
   subsection 82KT(1)

Income Tax Assessment Act 1997
   section 28-13
   section 995-1

Case References:
AAT Case 7273
   (1991) 22 ATR 3402

Case Y43
   91 ATC 412

Related ATO Interpretative Decisions
ATO ID 2004/612
ATO ID 2004/614

Keywords
Car expenses
Motor vehicle expenses

Siebel/TDMS Reference Number:  4016837

Business Line:  Small Business/Individual Taxpayers

Date of publication:  30 July 2004

ISSN: 1445-2782

history
  Date: Version:
You are here 31 May 2004 Original statement
  6 May 2016 Updated statement