Tax Deductions: What Travel Expenses Can I claim in my Tax Return?

Taxpayers are able to claim expenses for travel in their tax return. The travel claim reduces the taxable income and thus reducing the overall tax. Not all travel expenses can be claimed in the tax return. Following are few examples of expenses which can and can not be claimed:

  1. I travel from home to work every day: Travel between home and work is not claimable in most circumstances. Tax office believes that the travel from home to workplace is private in nature and thus not claimable in your tax return deductions. So if you travel from home to work and come back to work, the whole trip is not claimable.
  2. I work for two different work places and sometimes I have to travel between the two: The travel between two different workplaces is claimable. You need to make sure that one the places is not your home. The best way to calculate the claim is to keep diary records of your travel [if the travel is less than 5000 KM annually.] and record the Kilometres travelled between the workplaces. It is a good practice to record dates as well.
  3. I need to meet clients from work and have to travel to them: You are able to claim the travel between your workplace to the client’s premises. You can also claim the travel from client’s premises to your workplace or directly to your home. . The best way to calculate the claim is to keep diary records – Date, Distance in Kilometres and Description of work – if the travel is less than 5000 KM annually.
  4. I have to work from home sometimes and then go to my employer: You can claim the distance travelled between your home office and workplace only if it is requirement of your job to start the work at home and then you had to travel to employer while continue to work for same employer. If you have two different jobs you cannot claim travel expenses if you started work for one employer and then travelled to the other employer. Also if you start the work from home, it must be a condition of employment and not your own choice. Again diary entries are good choice if the travel is less than 5000 KM annually.
  5. I have to work at different and shifting work places everyday: You can claim expenses for working at different workplaces from your original place of work. If your travel annually is < than 5000 KM then maintaining a diary is a good practice but if you travel more than 5000 KM annually for work purposes [excluding travel from home to work and back] then you may also use Log Book method. Here are some guidelines from Australian Tax Office:
    1. Travel is a fundamental part of your work, as the very nature of your work, not just because it is convenient to you or your employer.
    2. You have a ‘web’ of work places you travel to, throughout the day.
    3. You continually travel from one work site to another.
    4. Your home is a base of operations – if you start work at home and cannot complete it until you attend at your work site.
    5. You are often uncertain of the location of your work site.
    6. Your employer provides an allowance in recognition of your need to travel continually between different work sites and you use this allowance to pay for your travel.
  6. I have to carry heavy and bulky tools and equipment at home. You may be able to claim expenses from home to workplace only if you are required to carry bulky tools and equipment from home to work every day. This has to part of you work and not your choice. Also only if there is no place to keep bulky tools and equipment at your workplace.
  7. I pick up post or mail while going to work. This is not claimable.
  8. I have to go to work two times a day. This is not claimable and falls under private expenses.
  9. I am on call work and standby most of the times. This is also considered private expenses and not claimable in tax return.
  10. My home is my place of business and I travel to my employment from my home business. Both work are unrelated and thus the travel is considered private in nature.