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Taxation Determination

TD 2005/32


Income tax: what are the reasonable travel and meal allowance expense amounts for 2005-06?

Please note that the PDF version is the authorised version of this ruling.

FOI status: may be released

Preamble

The number, subject heading, date of effect and paragraphs 1 to 15 of this document are a 'public ruling' for the purposes of Part IVAAA of the Taxation Administration Act 1953 and are legally binding on the Commissioner.

1. This Determination sets out the amounts that the Commissioner considers are reasonable ( reasonable amounts ) for the 2005-06 income year in relation to claims made for:

(a)
  overtime meal allowance expenses;
(b)
  domestic travel allowance expenses;
(c)
  travel allowance expenses for employee truck drivers; and
(d)
  overseas travel allowance expenses.
Taxation Ruling TR 2004/6

2. This Determination should be read together with Taxation Ruling TR 2004/6 which explains the substantiation exception and the way in which these expenses are able to be claimed. Key points about claiming travel allowance expenses and meal allowance expenses are:

·
  Claim must be allowable - A deduction claim cannot exceed the amount actually incurred for work-related purposes. The payment of an allowance does not of itself allow a deduction to be claimed.
·
  Expenses covered - The expenses that the substantiation exception apply to are:
-
  domestic travel allowance expenses - accommodation, food and drink, and incidentals that are covered by the allowance (but the accommodation rates do not apply to employee truck divers);
-
  overseas travel allowance expenses - food and drink, and incidentals that are covered by the allowance (the exception does not apply to accommodation); and
-
  Meal allowance expenses - for food and drink in connection with overtime worked.
·
  For travel allowance expenses - the employee must sleep away from home.
·
  Substantiation exception for reasonable amounts - Where the amount claimed is no more than the applicable reasonable amount, substantiation of the claim with written evidence is not required.
·
  Allowance must be paid - The substantiation exception only applies if the employee is paid a meal allowance under an industrial instrument or a travel allowance. The allowance must have an identifiable connection with the nature of the expense covered.
·
  Claims in excess of reasonable amounts - If the amount claimed is more than the reasonable amount, the whole claim must be substantiated, not just the excess.
·
  Verification of reasonable claims - In appropriate cases, where the substantiation exception is relied on, the employee may still be required to show an entitlement to the substantiation exception, the reasonable rate used, and entitlement to a deduction, for example that work-related travel was undertaken, a bona fide travel allowance was paid, the claim is below the reasonable amount for the destination, and commercial accommodation was used. The nature and degree of evidence will depend on the circumstances, for example the circumstances under which the employer pays allowances, the occupation of the employee, the total amount of allowances received and claimed during the year by the employee.
·
  Tax return treatment - Both allowance and expense do not need to be shown in the employee's tax return if the allowance does not exceed the reasonable amounts and it has been fully spent on deductible expenses. If an amount less than the allowance has been spent, then the income tax return must include the allowance and the expenses claimed. Where a deduction claim is made, the allowance paid must also be included in the tax return.

Reasonable amount for overtime meal allowance expenses

3. For overtime meal expenses to be considered under the exception from substantiation, the meal allowance must be a bona fide meal allowance (see paragraph 87 of Taxation Ruling TR 2004/6) paid or payable under a law of the Commonwealth or of a State or Territory, or an award, order, determination or industrial agreement in force under such a law (section 900-60 of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 (ITAA 1997)).

4. For the 2005-2006 income year the reasonable amount for overtime meal allowance expenses is $21.10.

Reasonable amounts for domestic travel allowance expenses

Types of expenses

5. This Determination shows reasonable amounts for travel allowance expenses. The reasonable amounts are given for:

·
  accommodation at daily rates (for domestic travel only);
·
  meals (showing breakfast, lunch and dinner); and
·
  deductible expenses incidental to travel.

Travel destinations

6. These amounts are shown for the following travel destination:

·
  each Australian State and Territory capital city;
·
  certain specified high cost regional and country centres (at individual rates);
·
  other specified regional and country centres (at a common rate);
·
  all other regional and country centres (at a common rate); and
·
  specified overseas locations (selected countries or regions in a country).

Type of accommodation

7. The accommodation rates shown for domestic travel apply only for stays in commercial establishments like hotels, motels and serviced apartments. If a different type of accommodation is used the rates do not apply.

Meal expenses

8. The reasonable amount for meals depends on the period and time of travel. That is, the rates only apply to meals (that is breakfast, lunch, dinner) that fall within the time of day from the commencement of travel to the end of travel covered by the allowance.

Incidental expenses

9. The reasonable amount applies in full to each day of travel covered by the allowance, without the need to apportion for any part-day travel on the first and last day.

Reasonable amount for 2005-06

10. The reasonable amounts for daily travel allowance expenses, according to salary levels and destinations, for the 2005-2006 income year are shown in Tables 1-6 as follows.

Table 1: Employee's annual salary - $81,400 or below
Place Accomm.
$
Food and drink
$
B'fast 18.90
Lunch 21.15
Dinner 36.40
Incidentals
$14.55
Total
$
Adelaide 131 76.45 14.55 222.00
Brisbane 135 76.45 14.55 226.00
Canberra 108 76.45 14.55 199.00
Darwin 128 76.45 14.55 219.00
Hobart 104 76.45 14.55 195.00
Melbourne 150 76.45 14.55 241.00
Perth 118 76.45 14.55 209.00
Sydney 157 76.45 14.55 248.00
High cost country centres See Table 4 76.45 14.55 Variable - see Table 4
Tier 2 country centres (see Table 5) 86 B'fast 16.85
Lunch 19.30
Dinner 33.30
69.45
14.55 170
Other country centres 74 69.45 14.55 158

Table 2: Employee's annual salary - $81,401 - $144,690
Place Accomm.
$
Food and drink
$
B'fast 20.50
Lunch 29.05
Dinner 40.70
Incidentals
$
Total
$
Adelaide 152 90.25 20.75 263
Brisbane 152 90.25 20.75 263
Canberra 134 90.25 20.75 245
Darwin 140 90.25 20.75 251
Hobart 121 90.25 20.75 232
Melbourne 169 90.25 20.75 280
Perth 145 90.25 20.75 256
Sydney 192 90.25 20.75 303
High cost country centres See Table 4 90.25 20.75 Variable - see Table 4
Tier 2 country centres (see Table 5) 103 B'fast 18.90
Lunch 19.30
Dinner 37.55
75.75
20.75 199.50
Other country centres 89 75.75 20.75 185.50

Table 3: Employee's annual salary - $144,691 and above
Place Accomm. Food and drink
$
B'fast $25
Lunch $36
Dinner $55
Incidentals Total
Adelaide 195 116 20.75 331.75
Brisbane 195 116 20.75 331.75
Canberra 195 116 20.75. 331.75
Darwin 195 116 20.75 331.75
Hobart 195 116 20.75 331.75
Melbourne 265 116 20.75 401.75
Perth 195 116 20.75 331.75
Sydney 265 116 20.75 401.75
Country centres $146, or the relevant amount in Table 4 if higher 116 20.75 Variable - see Table 4 if applicable

Table 4: High cost country centres - accommodation expenses
Country centre $ Country centre $
Alice Springs 91.00 Karratha (WA) 152.00
Ballarat (Vic) 97.00 Kununurra (WA) 119.00
Broome (WA) 129.00 Launceston(TAS) 95.00
Burnie (Tas) 93.50 Maitland (NSW) 92.00
Carnarvon (WA) 95.00 Newcastle (NSW) 108.00
Christmas Island (WA) 120.00 Newman (WA) 117.00
Dampier (WA) 98.00 Norfolk Island 100.00
Devonport (Tas) 99.00 Pt Hedland (WA) 117.00
Exmouth (WA) 95.00 Queenstown (TAS) 95.50
Gold Coast (QLD) 106.00 Thursday Island (QLD) 140.00
Halls Creek (WA) 103.50 Weipa (QLD) 125.00
Horn Island (QLD) 109.00 Wilpena (SA) 103.00
Jabiru (NT) 205.00 Wollongong (NSW) 100.00
Kalgoorlie (WA) 95.00 Yulara (NT) 282.00

Table 5: Tier 2 country centres
Country centre Country centre
Ararat (VIC) Geelong (VIC)
Bathurst (NSW) Mount Gambier (SA)
Bendigo (VIC) Mount Isa (QLD)
Bordertown (SA) Northam (WA)
Broken Hill (NSW) Orange (NSW)
Bunbury (WA) Port Lincoln (SA)
Cairns (QLD) Portland (VIC)
Castlemaine (VIC) Wagga Wagga (NSW)
Cocos (Keeling) Island Warrnambool (VIC)

Reasonable travel allowance expense claims for employee truck drivers

11. Amounts claimed up to the food and drink component only of the reasonable domestic daily travel allowance amounts for 'other country centres' are considered to be reasonable for meal expenses of employee truck drivers who have received a travel allowance and who are required to sleep away from home. For the 2005-2006 income year, the relevant amounts are:

Table 6: Employee truck drivers
Salary range Food and drink
  B'fast Lunch Dinner
$81,400 and below $16.85 $19.30 $33.30
  $69.45 per day
  B'fast Lunch Dinner
$81,401 and above $18.90 $19.30 $37.55
  $75.75 per day

(For further information on truck drivers see paragraphs 72 to 75 of TR 2004/6 and Taxation Ruling TR 95/18.)

Office holders covered by the Remuneration Tribunal

12. Daily domestic travel allowance expense claims made by office holders covered by the Remuneration Tribunal are considered to be reasonable amounts if they do not exceed the rate of allowances set by the Remuneration Tribunal for that office holder.

Federal Members of Parliament

13. The travel allowances paid to Federal Members of Parliament and Federal Parliamentary Secretaries, under the arrangements that commenced on 14 April 1998, are considered reasonable amounts for the recipients of those allowances. This includes the Capital City and Canberra travel allowance rates for domestic travel, having regard to the circumstances under which those allowances are paid.

Reasonable amounts for overseas travel allowance expenses

14. The reasonable amounts for overseas travel expenses are shown in Schedule 1 to this Determination. Table 1 of Schedule 1 sets out the cost group to which a country (or part of a country) has been allocated. Table 2 of Schedule 1 sets out the reasonable amount for meal expenses and incidental travel expenses for each cost group for specified employee salary ranges.

15. If the employee travels to a country that is not shown in Table 1 of Schedule 1 the employee can use the reasonable amount for Cost Group 1 in Table 2 for the relevant salary range.

Examples - calculation of reasonable daily overseas travel expense amounts

Allowance includes a separate meals and incidentals component

16. An employee travels to Brazil on business for two weeks and is paid a travel allowance of $300 per day ($100 for meals and incidentals and $200 for accommodation). The employee's annual salary is $82,000. The reasonable daily overseas travel allowance expense claim is calculated as follows.

17. Schedule 1 Table 1 lists Brazil as Cost Group 2. Using Table 2, at a salary of $82,000 per year, the reasonable overseas travel allowance amount for meals and incidental expenses for Cost Group 2 (which covers Brazil) is $145 ($110 for three meals and $35 for incidentals).

18. The employee claims a deduction for meals and incidental expenses actually incurred of $120 per day. As the employee is claiming a deduction that is less than the reasonable amount of $145 per day, the employee does not need to keep written evidence to substantiate expenditure on meals and incidental expenses. The employee is required, however, to maintain a travel record and to keep receipts or other documentary evidence to substantiate accommodation expenses.

Allowance without an identified component for meals and incidentals

19. An employee travels overseas on business for four days and is paid a travel allowance of $300 per day for meals, incidentals and accommodation. The employee's annual salary is $33,000. The employee travels to a country in Europe that is not listed in Table 1 of Schedule 1. Cost Group 1 is used for the reasonable overseas travel allowance amount for a country not listed in Table 1 and the reasonable amount is as follows.

20. At a salary of $33,000 per annum the reasonable overseas travel allowance amount for Cost Group 1 is $65 for three meals and $25 for incidental expenses (see Table 2).

21. The travel allowance paid to the employee does not specify an amount for each of the components of the allowance, but it covers meals and incidental expenses. The employee is entitled to claim up to $90 per day for expenses incurred on three meals (that is, food and drink) and incidentals without substantiation provided he has incurred deductible meals and incidental expenses at least equal to $90. Written evidence is required to substantiate any accommodation costs claimed.

Date of Effect

22. This Determination applies to the 2005-06 income year only. However, the Determination will not apply to taxpayers to the extent that it conflicts with the terms of settlement of a dispute agreed to before the date of issue of the Determination (see paragraphs 21 and 22 of Taxation Ruling TR 92/20).

Commissioner of Taxation

29 June 2005

SCHEDULE 1

Table 1: Table of Countries

If a country is not listed in Table 1 use the reasonable amount in Table 2 for Cost Group 1.

For an explanation of Cost Groups see Table 2 below.

Country Cost Group   Country Cost Group  
Albania 2   East Timor 2  
Algeria 3   Ecuador 3  
Angola 6   Egypt 2  
Antigua and Barbuda 5   El Salvador 2  
Argentina 1   Eritrea 1  
Ascension 2   Estonia 3  
Austria 4   Ethiopia 1  
Azerbaijan 2   Falkland Islands 4  
Bahamas 6   Fiji 1  
Bahrain 3   Finland 5  
Bangladesh 1   France 5  
Barbados 5   Gabon 5  
Belgium 4   Gambia 2  
Benin 4   Georgia 1  
Bermuda 6   Germany 4  
Bolivia 1   Ghana 2  
Bosnia 2   Gibraltar 3  
Brazil 2   Greece 4  
Brunei 1   Guatemala 2  
Bulgaria 2   Guinea 1  
Burkina Faso 2   Guyana 1  
Cambodia 3   Hungary 3  
Cameroon 4   Iceland 6  
Canada 4   India 2  
Cape Verde 1   Indonesia 3  
Chile 1   Iran 1  
China (incl Hong Kong & Macau) 4   Irish Republic 5  
Colombia 2   Israel 4  
Congo Democratic Rep. 5   Italy 4  
Cook Islands 3   Jamaica 3  
Costa Rica 1   Japan 5  
Cote D'Ivoire 4   Jerusalem 3  
Croatia 3   Jordan 3  
Cuba 4   Kazakhstan 3  
Cyprus 3   Kenya 1  
Czech Republic 2   Korea Republic 4  
Denmark 5   Kuwait 4  
Dominican Republic 3        
Laos 1   Reunion 4  
Latvia 3   Romania 1  
Lebanon 4   Russia 5  
Libya 3   Rwanda 1  
Lithuania 3   Samoa 2  
Luxembourg 4   Saudi Arabia 2  
Macedonia 1   Senegal 4  
Malawi 1   Serbia 2  
Malaysia 1   Sierra Leone 4  
Mali 2   Singapore 3  
Malta 4   Slovakia 1  
Martinique 5   Slovenia 2  
Mauritius 2   Solomon Islands 1  
Mexico 2   South Africa 1  
Monaco 5   Spain 4  
Morocco 3   Sri Lanka 1  
Mozambique 1   St Lucia 5  
Myanmar 3   St Vincent 2  
Namibia 2   Sudan 4  
Nepal 1   Surinam 1  
Netherlands 3   Sweden 4  
New Caledonia 5   Switzerland 5  
New Zealand 3   Syria 2  
Nicaragua 1   Taiwan 3  
Nigeria 4   Tanzania 1  
Niue 3   Thailand 1  
Norway 6   Tonga 3  
Oman 4   Trinidad and Tobago 5  
Pakistan 1   Tunisia 2  
Panama 3   Turkey 3  
Papua New Guinea 3   Uganda 1  
Paraguay 1   Ukraine 4  
Peru 2   United Arab Emirates 4  
Philippines 1   United Kingdom 5  
Poland 3   United States of America 5  
Portugal 3   Uruguay 1  
Puerto Rico 4   Uzbekistan 2  
Qatar 3   Vanuatu 4  
      Venezuela 1  
      Vietnam 1  
      Zambia 1  
      Zimbabwe 1  
           
           

Table 2: Reasonable amounts by cost groups

Table 2: Reasonable amounts by cost groups
Cost Group Salary $81,400 and below Salary $81,401 - $144,690 Salary $144,691 and above
  Meals Incidentals Total Meals Incidentals Total Meals Incidentals Total
1 $65 $25 $90 $90 $25 $115 $115 $30 $145
2 $80 $30 $110 $110 $35 $145 $140 $40 $180
3 $105 $35 $140 $130 $40 $170 $160 $45 $205
4 $130 $35 $165 $160 $45 $205 $190 $50 $240
5 $170 $40 $210 $210 $50 $260 $250 $60 $310
6 $205 $45 $250 $260 $50 $310 $300 $60 $360

Note: These amounts are determined by the Commissioner solely as the amounts that will be accepted for the exception from the requirement to obtain written evidence for substantiation purposes (see paragraph 33 of TR 2004/6).

Not previously issued as a draft

Previous rulings/Detminations

TD 2004/19



References

ATO references:
NO  2004/7122

ISSN: 1038-8982

Related Rulings/Determinations:
TR 92/20
TR 95/18
TR 2004/6

Subject References:
accommodation expenses
domestic travel expenses
meal & food expenses
overseas travel expenses
travel expenses

Legislative References:
TAA 1953 Pt IVAAA
ITAA 1997 900-60

 


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