You've worked hard all year covering thousands of kilometres of road – and the last thing you feel like doing is your taxes. However tax season is actually a time you should look forward to. Why? Because it's your chance to get a bit more money in your pocket!.
There are lots of deductions you're potentially eligible to claim as a truck driver, and making sure you tick all the right boxes (and have the documentation to back it up) can make a huge difference to your return at the end of the financial year. Working with our expert tax consultants here at H&R Block is a great way to make sure you get everything you deserve.
To complete your return, you'll need your end of year income statement from your employer that outlines all of your salary, wages, allowances and bonuses for the financial year. H&R Block can download this from the ATO for you. Next, you have 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 earning your income. 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 truck driver, such as:
- Any costs associated with washing and repairing your truck, provided this is not covered by your employer
- Any transport expenses (including parking fees and tolls) if you are driving between multiple job or work locations during the day, or getting a taxi to the depot because you've reached your maximum driving hours
- The cost of any medical examinations you need to take to fulfil any health assessment requirements to certify you're fit to drive
- Meals when you're travelling away from home overnight for work, and overtime meals when your employer pays you an overtime meal allowance under an industrial law, award or agreement
- Travel expenses such as accommodation, showers, sleeping bags/pillows and meals if you're travelling for work and need to stay away from home overnight, and pay these expenses yourself
- The cost of buying, repairing and cleaning any clothing items (including footwear) that are protective in nature or part of a uniform and have distinctive features such as your employer's logo on them
- Self education costs for attending any courses, training or seminars specifically related to your work (such as first aid certification or renewal)
- The cost of buying any notepads, logbooks, diaries and pens needed to record your route or schedule
- Sunhats, sunscreen and sunglasses (including prescription/anti-glare) if you're required to work in the sun and need protection
- Phone and internet expenses for any work-related usage (such as checking in with the base) on your personal phone or device, provided they're not already covered by your employer
- The cost of acquiring and looking after a working dog, but only if you're carrying cattle or livestock and need the dog to herd them
What can't I claim?
There are several key expenses you can't claim, including:
- The cost of buying CDs, talking books, iPods, or any other entertainment devices, even if they are purchased to keep you awake during a long drive
- The purchase of seat covers, air fresheners or any other adornments to your vehicle
- The cost of renewing your driver's licence, even if having it is a condition of your employment
- Any fines for speeding or parking that are incurred during your work day
- Accommodation expenses if these are covered by your employer or you sleep in your truck
- Any entertainment activities (such as going to the cinema, a gaming arcade or dinner) even if you're travelling for work and sleeping away from home
- Regular clothing such as jeans, a t-shirt or running shs, even if you only wear them to work
- 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?
Staying on top of your receipts and having impeccable record is very important if you want to get a good tax refund. So 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?
It's okay, we know this can accidentally happen to anyone, and 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.
But we all make innocent mistakes sometimes and if you lodge yourself and then realise you've submitted incorrect or unsubstantiated claims then you should contact us 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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