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When can you claim a deduction for home to work travel?
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 circumstances when you may be entitled to claim some of these travel expenses, or even travel costs to an alternative workplace. But it is a minefield that needs to be treaded carefully as to avoid the scrutiny of the taxman.
What constitutes a deductible ‘travel expense’?
You can generally claim the cost of travelling:
When 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 travel from place to place.
If you do itinerant work or have shifting places of work, you can typically 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 travellers 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 organise 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 can be 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 explain what can and cannot be claimed when it comes to home to work travel.
Example 1: Travel between jobs
Bhakti is a clerk at a large departmental store. She drives her car from her normal 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 with respect to travel from her normal workplace to her second job. However, she can’t claim the cost of travelling 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 travel 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 incurred in driving between his home and work as it is a private expense.
Above are only straightforward examples though. There will be cases where claiming a deduction is less clear. Consult this office for more information on what home to work travel deductions you can and cannot claim.
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