Train Driver Tax Return and Deduction Checklist
You literally make the trains run on time – but there's one deadline you shouldn't be tempted to miss: your annual tax return. It can be easy to put it off, but getting your taxes done on time every year is a smart thing to do because it's a chance for you to get a few extra dollars in your pocket, if you do it right.
Most people try their best on doing their taxes, but may still miss out on lots of legitimate deductions that would help them get a bigger refund. As a train driver, you'd be surprised how many deductions you can legitimately claim and our expert tax agents here at H&R Block can help you get them all so you'll receive every possible dollar back in your refund.
To complete your return, you'll need an income statement from your employer (previously called a "payment summary" or "group certificate"). This is a summary that outlines all of your salary, wages, allowances and bonuses for the financial year. It should be lodged by your employer directly to the ATO. Once this has been lodged, we can download the information straight into your tax return and we can help you to work out your deductions.
Can I claim any deductions?
You can claim deductions on any money spent during the financial year on products or services that directly related to your job. You need to have spent the money yourself (it can't have been reimbursed by your employer) and you need to keep a record of the expense such as a receipt or invoice.
What deductions can I claim?
There is a wide range of deductions you can claim as a train driver, such as:
- Car expenses if you need to drive between multiple work locations (for example from the depot to various train stations) during your work day or if you head to a second job
- The cost of buying, repairing and cleaning any clothing items that are part of your uniform or distinctive to your company (such as a shirt with a company logo on it)
- Mandatory medical examinations or assessments that need to be undertaken to certify you're fit to drive
- Renewal fees for licences, regulator permits, certificates, or 'cards' that relate to your work, such as a special licence required to drive a train
- Phone and internet costs for your own phone or device if you need to use it for work purposes and you're not given a phone by your employer or reimbursed for the costs (records must be kept for claims over $50)
- The cost of buying and insuring any personal tools or equipment (such as a set of spanners) to the extent that you use them for your work, which means if you also use the items outside of work then you can only claim a partial deduction
- Self education costs for attending any courses, training or seminars specifically related to your current line of work (such as a two-day course on shunting, coupling and uncoupling)
- Sunhats, sunscreen and sunglasses (including prescription/anti-glare) if you're required to work in the sun and need protection
- Costs incurred if you have to pay for a taxi, ride-sourcing fare or other transport in the course of performing your work because you've reached your maximum driving hours, or your employer requires you to travel from the depot to another location to start your work
- Travel expenses such as accommodation and meals if you travel for work and need to stay away from home overnight (for example, if you're a long haul train driver and need to take mandatory rest breaks) and pay these expenses yourself
What can't I claim?
There are several key expenses you can't claim, including:
- Any regular clothing worn to your workplace that could also be worn outside of work (such as plain pants, running shs or a plain shirt) even if you bought it specifically to wear to work
- The cost of buying any CDs, talking books, iPods, or other devices that you use to help relieve fatigue
- The cost of doing a pre-employment medical examination, even if you have to have it as a condition of your employment
- The cost of any meals or snacks consumed during the course of a normal work day, even if you are given an allowance by your employer to cover the meal expense
What records do I need to keep?
Clear records are really important at tax time, so you need to stay on top of your receipts and have a comprehensive set receipts if you want to get a good tax refund. It's a smart idea to create an easy and reliable system to help you keep on top of this throughout the year.
Remember, you don't need to keep physical receipts, and it's acceptable to keep a digital copy (such as a photo of a receipt or an email receipt) provided it is possible to read:
- The name of the supplier
- Amount of the expense
- Nature of the goods or services
- Date the expense was paid
- Date of the document
You also don't need to keep receipts for expenses under $10 (as long as these don't cumulatively come to more than $200).
What happens if I make a mistake in my tax return?
Don't stress, we know this can happen to anyone. Dealing with it as soon as possible is always the best approach. It's essential that you take great care in putting together the information and supporting documentation when filing your tax return, and only claim deductions that are genuine to avoid penalties and possibly even prosecution from the ATO.
It's easy to make an innocent mistakes sometimes, and if you self-lodge and realise you've submitted incorrect or unsubstantiated claims then you should contact H&R Block immediately and we will assist you in making the necessary amendments.
Still have some questions about lodging your tax return? Talk to H&R Block. Our experienced tax consultants will be able to help. Call 13 23 25 for details or find your nearest office and book an appointment online.
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