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For the year ended 30 June 2018


TR 2017/D6 Scroll to the end and read the examples.


Davy's Case AATA 376 (27 March 2017)

Para 66. "Thirdly, regardless of whether a taxpayer relies on s 900-50 of ITAA 97, they may nevertheless be required to show the basis for determining the amount of the claim, that the expense was actually incurred, and that it was for work-related purpose. In other words, as is stated on s. 900-15 of ITAA 97, the taxpayer may need to produce evidence that the claim qualifies as a deduction under the general provision in s. 8-1 of ITAA 97."

Taxation Determination TD 2015/14 Para 3

Expenses claimed must have been incurred and be an allowable deduction - The payment of an allowance does not of itself allow a deduction to be claimed.

Taxation Ruling TR 2004/6 Para 15

If the taxpayer relies on the exception from substantiation, they may still be required to show, the basis for determining the amount of their claim, that the expense was actually incurred, and that it was for work-related purposes. What counts as evidence for a claim subject to the substantiation exception will vary according to individual circumstances and the nature of the expenses.

Taxation Ruling TR 95/18 Para 12

The receipt of an allowance does not automatically entitle a taxpayer to a deduction.




1. You must be paid a bone fide travel allowance -

A 'bona fide travel allowance' is an amount that could reasonably be expected to cover accommodation, or meals or expenses incidental to travel. This does not require that the amount paid by the employer must equate dollar for dollar to the employee's actual expenditure. However there must be relativity between the quantum of the travel allowance and the purpose for which it is said to be paid. A token amount, or a general payment, is not a bona fide travel allowance. In this context the words 'cover' and 'covered' refer to the nature of the expenses for which the allowance is provided, that is the subject matter to be dealt with by the allowance paid, namely accommodation and applicable meal expenses. (See Re McIntosh and F.C. of T. [2001] AATA 702; 47 ATR 1242).

For accommodation, meal and incidental expenses to be considered under the exception from substantiation, the meal allowance must be a bona fide travel allowance (refer to TR 2004/6) paid or payable under a law of the Commonwealth or of a State or Territory, or an award, order, determination or industrial agreement in force under such a law (section 900-60 of the ITAA 1997).

Historically in some Enterprise Barganing Agreements negotiated between Employer's Human Resources Departments and Unions there are no Bone Fide Travel Allowances for overnight meals. Instead there may be references to sleepover, inconvience or accommodation allowances. 

e.g. Disability and aged carers where only a sleepover allowance is mentioned (this is not a meal allowance even though their employers must provide storage and cooking facilities for the carers food). The ATO auditors are only accepting actual receipts as tax deductions.

Overnight truck drivers where only accommodation allowances are refered to (this legislation is 30 years out of date as most drivers sleep in their cabs). Fortunately the ATO auditors are currently treating the truck driver's accommodation allowance as a meal allowance.

These EBAs have not kept up with the times as it is too onerous to expect  employees to keep records for 900 meals. The Fair Work Australia legislation needs to be changed to reflect modern times.

Read your EBAs carefully and specifically review the definitions of all allowances that you receive. It must state that the allowance is for overnight meals, accommodation and incidentals. 

2. You must be an employee (not a sole trader or partnership).

3. You must be away from your ordinary residence. You must sleep away from your home.

4. You must not stay in one town for more than 21 consecutive days (Roads and Traffic Authority of NSW case; MT 2030).

5. You should try to prove a regular pattern of expenditure and have receipts for 28 days. Try to keep as many receipts as possible. Take photos of your receipts using your mobile.

If you travel internationally then try to keep receipts for each country that you visit.

6. You will need a letter from your employer stating that the payment is a bona fide travel allowance paid for meals, incidentals and/or accommodation, the amount of the allowance, the number of allowances paid and the year in which it is paid.

7. Your claims have to be consistent with the employees occupation and type of expense.


You should try to explain to the ATO how you spent your meal & incidentals allowances and keep diary notes and receipts for 28 days.

If you travel internationally then try to keep receipts for each country that you visit.

Many clients use their mobiles to photograph their receipts then email them to their laptops / iPads / Desktop Computers.


Breakfast - hot breakfast $15, coffee $4 = $19

Lunch - counter lunch $15, coffee $4 = $19

Dinner - steak $25, schooners $15 = $40

Snacks - chips & bars $10, red bulls $18, water $5 = $15

Incidentals - toiletries $6, newspaper $2, magazines $8, in-house DVD $6, paperback book $20 = $42

Total = $135

TD 20017/19 Example 2 Para 20:

If Michelle's tax return is checked by the ATO she may be asked to explain her claim for decuctions. To do this Michelle would show she travelled to and worked in Sale for 4 days each month, that she reveiced an allowance for the meals and incidentals for each day she travelled, that she correctly declared this allowance as income in her tax return, and that she typically spent $85 a day on meals and incidental expenses (for example, by reference to diary entries, bank account records and receipts that she kept for some of the trips).

Para 21:

If Michelle had spent more than the reasonable amount on meals and incidentals and wanted to claim the higher amount that she spent, she would need to get and keep all of the receipts.


ATO reasonable overnight travel allowances for meals & incidentals

As per Tax Determination 2016/13 for the year ended 30 June 2018.


Salaries                            < $119,650                  < $212,950


Australia                          $128.70 or $118.95        $157.15 or $136.25


Truck Drivers                   $  99.60                           $ 99.60




Cost Group 1                   $ 85.00                            $100.00

Iraq, Nauru


Cost Group 2                   $125.00                            $145.00



Cost Group 3                   $165.00                             $190.00

Thailand, Indonesia, Fiji


Cost Group 4                   $185.00                             $215.00

New Zealand, Papua New Guinea,

Manus Island


Cost Group 5                   $240.00                             $290.00

Singapore, UK, Hong Kong, China,

USA, Italy, France, Germany


Cost Group 6                   $285.00                             $345.00

Japan, Monaco, Bermuda,





Some employees are paid $15 overtime meal allowance per meal. They may claim the difference between $30.05 (ATO rate) - $15.00 = $15.05 if they satisfy the above conditions and include the allowance as assessable income in the tax return.

You must be able to prove to the ATO a reasonable pattern of expenditure using actually receipts or other.

TD 2017/19 "Example 1 Para 6. Because Samantha has spent less than the reasonable amount for overtime meal expense, she can claim a deduction for the $20 she spends and she is not required to substantiate the expenditure (for  example, get and keep the receipt for the meal).

Para 7. If Samantha's tax return is checked by the ATO she may be asked to explain her claim for deduction. To do this, Samantha would show that she worked overtime, that she was paid an overtime meal allowance under an industrial instrument, that she correctly declared this allowance as income in her tax return, and  that she costed her meal at $20 based on the cost of the curry and drink she purchased from a nearby Thai restaurant."


Google ATO reasonable travel & overtime meal allowance



[201529] Domestic travel allowance expenses – reasonable rates and safe harbours for meals, incidentals and accommodation


Thanks for your email.

The ATO is aware of the current dilemma that many taxpayers are confronted with when claiming for meals and incidentals associated with travelling on work.

A person can only claim what they incurred. But they don’t need to keep receipts if not claiming more than the Commissioner’s published rate. So how do they work out what they incurred? And how do they satisfy the Commissioner that they have only claimed what they incurred?

My advice to people in this situation is to summarise a daily or weekly meal cost and use that as a guide. They may be able to use bank account withdrawals or credit card statements to refresh the memory. It would be rare for the amount to come anywhere near the Commissioner’s rate unless such travel is infrequent and they live it up when they travel.

The ATO has publicly noted that it is consulting on the issue and I am the contact. I am awaiting an internal report based on data analysis before I actually have any external conversations. I have been advised that the report is almost ready.

What we are hoping to achieve through the consultation is a safe harbour amount that requires no records and some rules for records to keep when substantiation is not required and you are claiming between the safe harbour amount and the Commissioner’s rate.

Please call me if you wish to discuss.

Michael Majoor 
Director, New Measures & Priority Issues, Small Business/Individual Taxpayers

Australian Taxation Office
Phone: 02 9354 3158 | Facsimile: 02 9685 8666

I am very interested in Michael Majoor's reference to safe harbour amounts where no receipts are required. You will notice that Michael thinks that this amount will be less than the Commissioner's rate.

ATO Issues

The Australian Taxation Office have informed me that you may claim up to the maximum Australian Bureau of Statistics Public Service Rates (TD 2014/19), if the allowance does not appear on the payment summary as long as the allowance is shown as assessable income in the tax return without having to substantiate expenses as per Tax Ruling 2004/6 paragraph 11, 15, 25, 31, 37 & 39. 'Where the allowance is not required to be shown as assessable income in the employee's tax return, and is not shown, a deduction for the expense cannot be claimed in the tax return.'

'The object of this ruling is so you can decide between either maintaining fewer records and claiming up to the reasonable amount for those deductible expenses actually incurred that are covered by the allowance or keeping written evidence to substantiate your claim. It is acceptable for a reasonable estimate to be the basis for claims having taken into account the taxpayer’s occupation and type of expenses that would usually be incurred. This is a significantly lesser requirement than the need to keep written evidence.'

This statement may be misleading as you must still have receipts for 28 days and prove a regular pattern of expenditure. Although Michael Majoor is working on safe harbour amounts.

If you travel internationally then 28 days of receipts for each country that you visit.

I have had serveral ATO audits this year by ATO auditor and compliance manager Wolfgang Kleeberg. He and his fellow auditors are happy to clarify these issues. Please call his area on 07 3149 5459.

Some employees are paid
$60 overnight travel allowance per overnight. This may or may not be on their payment summaries. If not on their payment summary. They must include the allowance as income $60 then claim the $123.45 (ATO rate) as a deduction = $63.46 net if they satisfy the above conditions.

Some truck drivers are paid $40 overnight travel allowance per overnight. This may or may not be on their payment summaries. If not on their payment summary. They must include the allowance as income $40 then claim the $95.40 (ATO rate) as a deduction = $55.40 net if they satisfy the above conditions You must show a regular pattern of expenditure for 28 days using diaries, receipts and bank statements.


ATO Website Example 4:

Michelle is a sales manager who travels from Brisbane to Melbourne to participate in a corporate planning seminar. She is away from home for two nights. Her employer pays her a travel allowance of $110 per night for accommodation, meals and incidentals and includes this on her payment summary. This amount is less than the reasonable allowance amount. Michelle's overnight travel expenses exceed her allowance. Michelle must include her travel allowance in her assessable income on her tax return as it is shown on her payment summary. She can claim a deduction for the overnight travel expenses she incurred without providing receipts or other written evidence, as long as her claim does not exceed the reasonable allowance amount.




1. You must be stay overnight away from your home and usual place of work.

2. You must not stay in one town for more than 21 days (Roads and Traffic Authority of NSW case; MT 2030).

3. You must keep written evidence.


Air fares

Taxis or car hire




Alcohol - e.g. wine & beer



Reading materials - e.g. newspapers, magazines, books, etc.

Movies - e.g. DVDs, in-house, cinema, etc.



Most employers usually pay for only accommodation and meals for their employees but there are many other incidental expenses that are not reimbursed, these are usually a tax deduction. e.g. alcohol, snacks, toiletries, movies, etc.



ATO Practice Statement LA 2005/7

In some circumstances BPAY and internet banking statements may include sufficient details to support the correctness of your claims. Suppliers may not issue a receipt containing all the information required by the substantiation legislation. However you may use a combination of other documents to support your claims.

In some cases if a credit card statement has the date of the transaction, the name of the supplier and the amount paid and you make a note on the credit card statement detailing the items purchased with their respective prices, the Tax Office may accept this as sufficient evidence. See examples below.

The above does not apply for EFTPOS transactions because bank statements do not show cash withdrawals separately.

I recommend that you keep every receipt you can, take a photos of them with your mobile then email them to your laptop.

Practice Statement LA 2005/7

Example 2 - use of a bank or credit card statement combined with other evidence

22. Kylie, having just started her first full time job as a clerical worker, purchased a pen for use at work costing $50 from a jeweller's shop. She also bought a pair of earrings for $100 and paid for both items on her credit card. Having never completed a tax return before, she was not aware that the pen would be a deductible expense. She did not request or receive a receipt.

23. When it was time to prepare her return, Kylie realised that she could claim her pen as a work expense. She had also incurred union fees of $478, which were recorded on her payment summary.

24. Kylie checked her credit card statement and found that it showed an amount of $150 and the name of the jeweller's shop. Initially, she decided it would be safest not to claim for the pen because she had no specific receipt and she was not sure of the exact amount. However, she had kept the box the pen had been packaged in, and upon checking the box for further information noted the $50 price sticker on the outside. Before lodging her income tax return, Kylie made a note on the credit card statement detailing the two items and their respective prices and kept the pen packaging along with her bank statement.

25. By keeping the pen packaging and the credit card statement including her notation, Kylie has ensured she has sufficient information to substantiate her expense. The ATO will accept the combination of the pen packaging and the credit card statement as sufficient evidence to substantiate her claim.

26. Had Kylie not kept the box that her pen came in with the price sticker on it, but was able to obtain from the jewellery store a written breakdown of how much she spent on each of the items, she would also have been able to make a note on her credit card statement detailing the two items and their respective prices, and would have had sufficient evidence to substantiate her claim. The ATO would accept the combination of the credit card statement containing Kylie's notation and the written price breakdown from the jewellery store as sufficient substantiation.


ATO TR 2017/D6 Example 5

Working at new locations every few weeks and staying away from home

Special demands travel (deductible)

Work-related accommodation (deductible)

Mike is an employee foreman specialising in road construction, particularly intersection construction. He works for a road construction firm, which has an office near Mike's home in Melbourne. Mike does not have a set desk as he is rarely in the office, only attending meetings one or two times per month.

Mike is mainly based and required 'on-site', which can be anywhere throughout Victoria. He generally works Monday to Friday, and is paid separate weekend rates if required to work on weekends.

Work equipment required for the projects is carried on trucks driven by other employees.

Projects can be between 50 to 200 kilometres away from Mike's home or the firm's office, and can last for periods ranging from one to eight weeks. Where a project is more than 100 kilometres from home, Mike is paid a daily 'travel allowance' by his employer for the number of days of the project to help cover the cost of his accommodation and meals.

Apart from being paid for weekend work and receiving the daily 'travel allowance', Mike's salary package recognises all aspects of his position, including the requirement for him to travel between Melbourne and various project sites at the start and end of each project. His employer requires Mike to respond to any work calls received while in transit between Melbourne and the project sites.

It is up to Mike to decide if he stays away from home overnight when at project locations. If he does stay away, he arranges his own accommodation and meals. Typically, where the project is more than 100 kilometres from home, Mike usually chooses to stay in short term accommodation such as motels, bed and breakfasts, or a cabin or caravan at a caravan park, depending on what is available in the area in which his 'road construction team' is working.

Mike always stays in one accommodation location for each project and commutes between that accommodation and the project site.

Mike does not travel from one project to the next or from one work site to the next. Mike will usually travel from home to a particular project site and then return home upon completion of that project.

On occasions Mike chooses to travel back to Melbourne from a project location during the week or on weekends, rather than staying away from home overnight. On these occasions, he returns to the project location in time to recommence work at the required time. He undertakes this travel at his own cost.

Mike's transport expenses for trips between Melbourne and the project locations at the start and end of each project and are deductible. Mike undertakes this travel in the performance of his work activities, which reflect special demands associated with ongoing travel between various work locations.

Mike's accommodation, meals and incidentals for the periods he spends away from Melbourne on projects are deductible because the travel is required by his work and he is not living away from home.

The cost of travel between project locations and Melbourne during the week and on weekends is not deductible. It is not undertaken in performing Mike's duties, and occurs by choice for personal reasons.

Further, Mike cannot deduct accommodation and meal expenses for periods when he has returned home, including for periods when Mike receives a travel allowance to cover the costs of working away from home and he chooses to travel home. These are private expenses (Return to paragraph 40 or 58 of this draft Ruling).



The information provided in the above documents is not intended to be, nor should it be construed as tax advice. Any specific recommendation for a client can only be done after their individual circumstances have been determined by David Douglas Accountants.

We have clients from the following locations:

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