Ask LH: When Can I Claim Work Travel Expenses Against Tax?

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

Dogs picture from Shutterstock

Dear OTM,

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!

Cheers Lifehacker

Got your own question you want to put to Lifehacker? Send it using our contact form.


Comments

    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.

    This is why Lifehacker needs to stop putting tax information in their own words. The ATO page does not say that. That statement as worded is incorrect and the travel would NOT be deductible. Taking a shift at a different site does not classify the site as an alternate place of work. In fact it for that 'day' it becomes your regular place of work. There are rulings to support this.

    The ATO phrase alternative workplace refers usually to a client site e.g. an IT worker going from a head office directly to a client premises to service the client on site. The client site is an alternate place of work.

    It dos not cover for example a retail employee who works in one suburb most days - then if your employer said 'go do xyz store tomorrow to do a stocktake' on that day you go to xyz store it is your regular place of work for the day.

    It would be different if you went to your regular store FIRST then out to the second store which is as per the 3rd point.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now