Tax Time: What Can or Can't You Claim as Travel Expenses?

Finance & Money Blog

Tax time is fast approaching. If you are a wage earner, you might be wondering what expenses you can claim. To claim an expense as a deduction,  it must be incurred in the process of earning an income rather than for personal use, and must not be a capital expense. If you use your computer for both personal and work-related use, for example, then you can only claim the work-related portion.

A major cost for many is travelling to work. Travel expenses can get complicated and run into some grey areas; an expert taxation consultant should be able to clarify any ambiguities. In the meantime, here are some general guidelines.

Travel Expenses You Can Claim

Going to and from work is generally regarded as a private expense and is not deductible. However, this is not always the case.

In some instances, you can claim travelling to work. For example if you have two jobs and drive from your first job directly to the second job, you can claim this trip from one workplace to another, but you cannot claim the drive from your second workplace to home. Direct travel from one workplace to another, in this case, is deductible.

Going to an alternative workplace during the course of your day is also deductible—if you go to a client's premises for example. This trip is claimable no matter what the starting point of the journey; you can either drive from home to a client's premises or from your workplace. This includes the drive back to your workplace or back home.

During the course of your workday you might shift locations; for example you might work at several retail outlets or warehouses. Travel to and from these different areas is claimable. Also, if you need to transport equipment used for work, for example, a ladder,  then this trip is deductible as well.

Travel Expenses You Can't Claim

Doing incidental work-related minor tasks on your way to work, such as picking up mail, does not automatically make that trip a valid deduction. Similarly, being on call, doing shift work, or travelling to your workplace several times a day, does not mean that you can claim the travel costs.

If you have a home business and also work for an employer, you cannot claim the travel to your employer's work. Nor can you claim the cost of travel simply because there is no available public transport.

Whether or not you can claim travelling costs in some instances can be tricky. If in doubt, consultants like Mansell & Associates should be able to provide guidance. 


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