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Did you know that you may be entitled to claim some of the expenses you outlay while travelling between your home and your regular workplace, or even to your alternative workplace?
While claiming such work travel tax deductions are certainly possible, such claims can be a minefield that needs to be navigated very carefully so as to not end up in hot water with the taxman.
So what then is generally allowed as a deductible “travel expense”? Individuals are typically able to claim a tax deduction for work-related travel expenses. As a general rule, travel from your home to your workplace is not allowed as a deduction because it constitutes a “private expense”. There are however specific situations where this rule does not apply.
We shed some light below on what does and doesn’t constitute a travel deduction between home and work and between different workplaces.
What you can claim
You can generally claim the cost of travelling:
Can you count your home as a workplace?
You cannot count your home as a workplace unless you carry out “itinerant work”; that is, work that requires you to go from place to place. If you do itinerant work or have shifting places of work, you can claim the cost of driving between workplaces and your home.
The following factors may indicate that you do itinerant work:
Common examples of such workers would include commercial travelers and government inspectors whose homes are the base of their operations from which they travel to one of a number of locations throughout the day over a continuing period.
Typically in these cases, the employee will show up at the employer’s office periodically (like once a week) to complete or file reports, pick up supplies or organised future trips.
Travel from home to the office and back made in these limited circumstances will be treated as business travel, and as a result are tax deductible.
What you can’t claim
You generally can’t claim the cost of travelling between work and home just because:
We have provided three examples below adapted from the Tax Office to elucidate what can and cannot be claimed when it comes to home to work travel.
Example 1: Travel between jobs
Bhakti works as a clerk at a large departmental store in a suburban shopping center, but she also has employment at a second job. She drives her car from her primary workplace to her second job as a waiter.
After finishing work as a waiter, she goes directly home.
Yes, Bhakti can claim the car expenses from her normal workplace to her second job. However, she can’t claim the cost of going home from her second job.
Example 2: Travel to an alternative workplace
Jana, a dental assistant in the city, is required to attend meetings at her employer’s other clinic in the suburbs. She drives her car to the suburban clinic. As the meetings finish late, she drives straight home.
Yes, Jana can claim the cost of each journey.
Example 3: Work from home
Benjamin’s employer has an office in the city but is happy for him to work from home three days a week. On these days, Benjamin sometimes has to drive into the office for a meeting before returning home to work.
No, Benjamin cannot claim the expense of driving between his home and work as it is a private expense.
The above are only straightforward examples though. There will be cases where taxpayers find claiming a deduction is less clear.
Consult this office for more information on what home to work travel deductions you may be able, or may not be able, to claim.
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