Hey Lifehacker, I work as a casual sales assistant at a retail store. Sometimes I get a shift at other stores in different suburbs that aren't my home store. Would I be able to claim a tax deduction for travel when that happens? Thanks, On The Move
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As ever, for specific tax advice you should consult a registered tax professional. However, on the subject of travel to and from work the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) does have some clear guidelines for employees on when they can claim travel expenses as a deduction against their taxable income. These are the main points relevant to your case:
- You can't claim the cost of travelling to and from work at your usual place of work (in your case, your home store).
- You can claim the cost of travelling to and from your home to an "alternative workplace for work purposes" — so if you have a shift at a non-regular site, that journey is deductible.
- You can claim the cost of travelling from one work site to another — so if you started work at one store and were asked to go to a second store, you could claim the cost of the trip. Because you're not at your normal work site, you can also claim the cost of returning directly to your residence from that second store. (If you travelled back from the second store to your normal store and then went home, you could claim the cost of the trip between stores, but not the final journey home.)
So if you're working at a non-regular location, the costs of travel should be deductible. If you use public transport, the cost will be easy to work out. If you're driving, you'll need to keep records of the distance travelled and the dates you've worked as a basis for calculating your costs. Remember to check the occupation guides for other potential deductions!
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